Site Selection Panel Selected to Identify Site for New Hospital

1 June 2023

Grand River Hospital and St. Mary’s General Hospital continue to advance plans for the proposed new joint hospital in Kitchener-Waterloo. In March, a public call was made inviting candidates to apply for the Site Selection Panel who will be leading the efforts to identify a preferred site for the hospital. We are pleased to share that the Panel members have now been selected.

The Panel will lead an independent and well-communicated process to evaluate land and determine a preferred site. The Panel’s work will be supported by the necessary technical and subject matter expertise and an independent Fairness Advisor to make the best decision for the community.

We are grateful to all community members who applied to join the Panel and support our project.

The Site Selection Panel includes five members, with Carl Zehr as Chair:

Karen Coviello – Former City of Waterloo Councillor and respected leadership executive with Habitat For Humanity Canada, who also brings significant experience as a community volunteer and advocate.

Janet Davidson – Widely honoured former executive and CEO of multiple hospital systems in Canada, who also brings clinical care experience, and experience as a senior public servant in Canadian health care systems.

Mike Murray – Former long-time CAO with the Region of Waterloo, brings extensive community involvement, as well as significant experience in finance, land-use planning, and the development and delivery of large-scale infrastructure projects.

Altaf Stationwala – A well-respected hospital CEO who led the recent completion of a new hospital build, as well as Chaired the Lakeridge Health Expert Panel new hospital site selection process in 2022.

Carl Zehr (Chair) – Long-time former Mayor of the City of Kitchener and Region of Waterloo Councillor, he has served on numerous Boards and is a well-respected senior executive and leader in the community.

The Panel will make its recommendation on a preferred site for the new hospital to the BFCT subcommittee and the Boards of Grand River Hospital and St. Mary’s General Hospital by the end of 2023.

The new hospital is a key piece of a broader proposal before the Ministry of Health to modernize and expand infrastructure and services to support a growing number of patients and their families in Waterloo Region and beyond.

In addition to a new hospital, we are also proposing to renew and repurpose two existing hospital sites:

  • The midtown Kitchener-Waterloo Campus would be transformed into an ambulatory and urgent care centre; and
  • The Freeport Campus in Kitchener would be modernized and expanded to increase our rehabilitation capacity.

All three sites would be shared by both Grand River Hospital and St. Mary’s General Hospital.

The Building the Future of Care Together (BFCT) Committee of the hospitals’ boards is responsible for overseeing the site selection project and the Panel. This Committee reports into the boards of both hospitals and St. Joseph’s Health System.


Next Steps

We recognize the location of a new hospital will have major impacts on our community. Hospital teams, partners, municipalities, subject matter experts and the broader community are encouraged to provide their input as part of the site selection process. The Panel will be gathering feedback from experts and the community on draft criteria for evaluating potential sites for a new hospital. These criteria will be taken into consideration in the site selection process, along with specifications and requirements set out by Ontario’s Ministry of Health to guide hospital infrastructure development projects.

More information will be shared soon about opportunities to get involved, as well as progress toward identifying a preferred site.

Updates on the site selection process and opportunities to provide feedback will be posted on the Building the Future of Care Together website: Comments and questions can be sent to


Panel Member Bios

Karen Coviello

Born and raised in the beautiful City of Saskatoon, Karen is a graduate of the University of Waterloo (B.Sc., 1989), Western (B.Ed., 1992) and Royal Roads University (M.A. Leadership, 2012). Karen’s professional roots lie in primary education, where she developed a passion for creating the space for others to flourish. Her proven talents are geared to create a successful learning organization: Developing effective stakeholder engagement strategies, curriculum and workshop design, strategic planning, and guiding organizations through change initiatives.

Karen is currently the Vice President of Affiliate Success at Habitat Canada. Previously, she was the CEO of Habitat Waterloo Region (2018-2020), served as a City of Waterloo Councillor (2006-14), and was a professor in Conestoga College’s Business School. She was also the co-founder and principal of The Talent Business Solutions, a successful Waterloo start-up focused on delivering strategic management support to help not-for-profits grow, compete, and embrace change. Karen is an avid community volunteer, with a long history of governance roles in Waterloo Region, including serving on the boards of St. Mary’s General Hospital, Waterloo-Wellington LLHIN, and the Waterloo Public Library. Karen is currently serving as the President & Chair of the Board of the YW of Kitchener-Waterloo.

Janet Davidson

Janet Davidson works in health care consulting with a focus on strategy, organization management and design, and governance. Formerly, she served as Deputy Minister of Health for Alberta, CEO of Trillium Health Centre, COO of Vancouver Coastal Health, as well as numerous other leadership positions in a number of Canadian jurisdictions.  Janet has over 40 years of experience in healthcare in the government, voluntary and hospital/community sectors in a number of Canadian jurisdictions and internationally. She recently completed a 5-year term as Board Chair of the Canadian Institute for Health Information. Janet is the immediate past board chair of the Canadian Institute for Health Information and the Digital Research Alliance of Canada and currently holds the position of Administrator of the Nova Scotia Health Authority. She is also a Board member of the Hospital for Sick Children and Bayshore Healthcare. She is the Don Johnson Fellow in Residence with the CD Howe Institute and co-chairs their Health Policy Council.

Janet received a Bachelor of Nursing Science from the University of Windsor and a Master’s in Health Services Administration from the University of Alberta.  She is a graduate of the Institute of Corporate Directors’ Education program at Rotman, the UC Berkeley School of Public Health’s Global Health Leadership program and has an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from the University of Windsor.  She is an Officer of the Order of Canada and has been named twice to the list of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women and Canada’s Top 25 Most Influential Women.

Mike Murray

Mike Murray is a senior executive with extensive public, private and not-for-profit sector experience, including significant leadership roles in municipal government. Over his career, Mike has led the development and delivery of large-scale infrastructure projects, and has focussed on helping to create inclusive, thriving, and sustainable communities.  He currently has a private consulting practice providing strategic advice to a variety of organizations, primarily related to municipal issues.

Mike spent much of his career with the Regional Municipality of Waterloo, including 16 years as the Region’s Chief Administrative Officer, reporting directly to the elected Regional Council.  In his role as CAO, he led a team of over 3,000 people, with a budget of over $1 billion, serving one of the fastest growing regions in Canada.  He had overall responsibility for all of the Region’s functions including Transportation and Environmental Services; Social Services and Public Health; Planning, Development and Cultural Services, and all related corporate support functions. As CAO, he also provided executive leadership to all aspects of the Region’s $1 billion Light Rail Transit (LRT) project – from concept through to completion over a period of 15 years.

Throughout his career Mike has fostered collaborative working relationships with diverse stakeholder groups. He was a founding member of the Waterloo Region Immigrant Employment Network, Waterloo Region Tourism Marketing Corporation, and the Creative Enterprise Initiative. Mike also served on the Central Ontario Smart Growth Panel, and on the Boards of numerous industry associations and not-for-profit organizations including The Kitchener and Waterloo Community Foundation, Canada’s Technology Triangle Inc., the Canadian Urban Institute, and the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony.

Before joining the Region, Mike worked as a consulting engineer, mainly in northern and western Canada. He has also been involved in several international projects including projects in Brazil (groundwater protection), China (environmental sustainability) and Ukraine (regional governance development).

Mike has a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemical Engineering from McMaster University and a Master’s Degree in Civil/Environmental Engineering from the University of Toronto, and he is a registered Professional Engineer in the Province of Ontario.

Altaf Stationwala

Altaf Stationwala was appointed President and CEO of Mackenzie Health in 2010. Under his leadership, Mackenzie Health received Accreditation with Exemplary Standing consecutively in 2013, 2017 and 2022 – the highest rating a Canadian healthcare provider can achieve – and numerous awards for its commitment to safety and quality patient care, as well as approval to build the organization’s second hospital – Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital which opened in early 2021. In June 2015, Altaf established the Mackenzie Innovation Institute, which includes the first-in-Canada Innovation Unit, a unique integration of advanced technology that transforms the delivery of care. Prior to joining Mackenzie Health, Altaf held the position of Senior Vice President and Chief Operations Officer at Mount Sinai Hospital, and previous to that he was Site Executive – Brampton Civic Hospital and Vice President, Patient Services at the William Osler Health Centre.

Altaf was presented with the Canadian College of Health Service Executives Canada’s Outstanding Young Health Executive of the Year Award in 2007 for his demonstrated leadership in improving the effectiveness and sustainability of the country’s health system. He has a diverse educational background with undergraduate degrees in Economics, Geography and Business Administration, as well as a Master’s in Health Administration. Altaf is adjunct faculty at the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation (IHPME), Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, and a surveyor with Accreditation Canada. Altaf serves as a member of the several Board of Governors including: GS1 Canada, Mohawk Medbuy Corporation, and ventureLAb Innovation Centre. Altaf is also the Co-Chair of the Western York Region Ontario Health Team. Altaf is the past Chair of the Ontario Hospital Association.

Carl Zehr

Carl Zehr is a long-standing community member and respected former mayor of Kitchener, serving from 1997 to 2014.

Carl first ran for elected office in the fall of 1985.  He served as Councillor for the Chicopee Ward in the City of Kitchener from 1985 through 1994.  In 1997 Carl was elected Mayor of the City of Kitchener and subsequently won four successive elections.  He also served as Councillor on the Region of Waterloo Council from 1988 – 1994 and 1997 – 2014.  As Mayor, he provided leadership in the creation of a transformative economic development strategy to broaden the economic base of the city and region.  Having retired in 2014, he is Kitchener’s longest serving Mayor and was recognized by the renaming of the Kitchener City Hall’s square to Carl Zehr Square.   

At the broader municipal level, Carl was a member of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario’s Large Urban Mayors Caucus of Ontario (LUMCO) and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Big City Mayors Caucus (BCMC). He was Chair of LUMCO in 1999, and Chair of BCMC from 2008 – 2011.

Carl has the professional designation FCPA, FCGA and has extensive experience in both private and public sectors. From 1981 to 1998, he was a Partner in the accounting firm Mercer, Hildebrand and Zehr.  He is a Past Governor & President of CGA Ontario as well as a Past Director of CGA Canada.  In 2008, he was recognized by CGA Canada as one of the country’s Top 100 CGAs. Carl has also been involved in various community activities and organizations including the Rotary Club of Kitchener, Kitchener Housing Inc., Independent Living Centre, University of Waterloo Board, Southwestern Ontario Chapter of the Institute of Corporate Directors, and Metrolinx Board of Directors.

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