Everyone has an opinion on where they think it should go, but from the moment Shawn O’Keefe heard about the Request for land Proposals to build a hospital, he knew he had the winner.

“With the planned expansion of County Road 42, the fact they annexed this land for development, the location on the edge of Windsor and Essex County, it’s perfect!”

The O'Keefe family farm is the recommended site for the New Single-Site Acute Care Hospital.

The O’Keefe family farm is the recommended site for the New Single-Site Acute Care Hospital.

You may know the property as the place to get corn from the Lafferty Farms corn stand in the summer.

The O’Keefe farm, at the corner of County Road 42 and the 9th Concession, has been in the family for more than 100 years.  Shawn O’Keefe’s family emigrated from Ireland in the late 19th century.

Shawn says his great-great grandfather, Michael O’Keefe, once owned the land where the Windsor Airport is built.  When that land was expropriated by the Federal Government to make room for an airport, the O’Keefe family moved across the road, to the current family farm.  Three generations later, the family farm is full of soya beans and memories.

But the two youngest O’Keefe adults do not make their living in the field.  Shawn O’Keefe owns excavation and sanitation companies.  His brother, Grant, teaches at Villanova High School.

On January 1, 2003, the town of Tecumseh transferred 6,300 acres of land – including the O’Keefe Farm – to City of Windsor to accommodate future residential and employment growth.  It is situated in an area designated for “employment”.

“We always knew it would get developed at some point.  I was actually surprised nothing happened earlier,” said Shawn.

Under the agreement with Windsor Regional Hospital, the family will transfer 60 acres of land to Windsor Regional hospital, and keep the rest of the 100+ acre property – including their family home, built by Michael O’Keefe Sr. in the late 19th century, when the property was purchased.

“When the city annexed this land, everyone was worried taxes were going to go up.  I think this might actually be a pretty good situation for properties,” says Shawn.

The family matriarch, Mary Jane O’Keefe, is thrilled that the property that housed her family for generations will now help shape the future of healthcare for her grandchildren.

“We need this. I’ve been to a couple of the presentations and think the vision is perfect,” she said. “Even if it isn’t built here – we need this new hospital.  The community needs this hospital and the planned improvements to the hospital system.”

The O’Keefe family has signed an agreement of purchase and sale with Windsor Regional Hospital. That agreement includes several conditions which require the O’Keefe family and the Hospital to undertake certain inspections and investigations and obtain certain approvals, not the least of which is the approval of the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care.

The agreement gives the O’Keefe family and the Hospital until May, 2017 to satisfy the conditions and, although there is always the possibility that the sale cannot proceed because one or more of the conditions is not satisfied, the Hospital is confident that the conditions will be satisfied. The O’Keefe family and the Hospital are committed to fulfilling the conditions and completing the sale transaction.