CORNWALL, Ontario - A spokesman for a local coalition that is trying to the keep the Cornwall Community Hospital's Second Street site out of the hands of private developers is suggesting the matter be decided by city residents.
Mark MacDonald, a former city councillor and member of the Concerned Citizens Coalition, issued a news release Thursday where he suggested he will ask to present city council with a case to hold a referendum on the subject.
"The Municipal Referendums Act allows for direct democracy in situations like this," said MacDonald. "I will be asking to make a presentation to city council in the hopes that they will, at the very least, consider the possibility of a referendum on the next ballot.
"We are closing in on the next municipal election and it would be a complete and utter shame if we lost the potential to use (former hospital site) for the social benefit of this community without the public having a direct say."
The coalition has steadily lobbied to turn the property into a public health facility, with specific focuses that include treating the Cornwall area's aging senior population.
But just how likely it is city council will sanction a referendum remains debatable.
Helen Finn, the city clerk, said there are a slew of conditions that must be met before a referendum can take place.
Arguably tops on the list is that the matter has to be something the city has jurisdiction over.
Finn couldn't say whether that would be the case in this scenario.
"I have not seen a question so I really can't answer that," she said.
Another condition is that council would have to approve of the referendum 180 days before next year's municipal election.