CORNWALL, Ontario - Well, so much for that.
A collection of Cornwall citizens opposed to the sale of the former Second Street site of the Cornwall Community Hospital found out Friday that city councillors will not hear their request to hold a referendum on the matter.
Mark MacDonald, a former city councillor and spokesperson for the Concerned Citizens Coalition, said Friday the city clerk has turned down the request.
"I am extremely disappointed that council will not even consider the idea of a referendum regarding the future use of the General Hospital," he said, referring to the previous name of the property. "There has not been one public meeting about this issue and this sale is being rammed through."
City clerk Helen Finn said since the sale of the hospital is not a municipal issue, she has little choice but to keep it from the city hall agenda.
Provincial rules bar municipalities from convening referenda unless they are specifically related to an issue of municipal concern.
Hospitals are governed by local health integration networks, as well as the provincial government.
There are also provisions which keep municipalities from holding referenda on matters of provincial jurisdiction.
MacDonald said the likelihood of his coalition moving forward to block the sale of the property - presumably to a collection of local doctors - is running out of steam.
"This was our last hope and without the support of council, we're finished," he said.
The coalition had an aim to operate a health clinic and other supporting functions at the property, through the use of public money.
"The number of people over the age of 75 years old is going to double in the coming years and this council is lacking real vision by letting this opportunity pass," said MacDonald, who is considering a run for mayor in 2014.