Woden's Canberra Institute of Technology campus could be redeveloped into an aged care facility as part of a wider strategy to reinvent the ailing town centre as a major health precinct, ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said.
As the ACT government prepares to move about 600 more Health Directorate staff to the ageing town centre, Mr Barr told 80 representatives from Woden and Phillip businesses on Friday he was open to exploring the idea of transforming Woden into the city's leading health hub.
"As we look ahead there's an exciting opportunity for rejuvenation and renewal, increased residential population to underpin small business activity together with that daytime activity that comes with the extra staff that are coming in as a result of decisions made by the territory government," Mr Barr said.
"We want to build on that opportunity and think about what's possible in terms of this region as a leading health precinct, not just servicing Canberra but the broader Canberra region."
Mr Barr said CIT Woden, which will close its doors as early as 2017, could be the site of an allied health facility, that would include aged care, and could be part of the "broader health agenda for the Woden region".
"The industry nationwide has recognised there is a demand here in Canberra and they are looking for investment opportunities [and] it makes sense given the close proximity to Canberra Hospital so it's really a case of whether there's that local interest here in Woden," Mr Barr said.
"We can facilitate some of that through land release, we've got a few sites that could potentially host a range of allied health industries and facilities for treatment and the like."
ACT Labor Senate candidate and longtime Woden Valley resident David Smith said strengthening connections between federal and territory health departments would underpin much-needed economic growth in the Woden region.
"To take advantage of the Woden hospital precinct, to think about the opportunities in terms of aged care initiatives, to build the synergies between both the local ACT Health administration and the federal health administration and to realise we're actually a regional hub for health care right across this region will undoubtedly strengthen and support the local economy here," Mr Smith said.
He said the Woden economy had been gutted by public service cuts and was still recovering despite the ACT government's commitment to move in hundreds of its public servants.
"The last three years have been difficult, we've started to see a bit of a change but it's not a change that's been fairly shared across this territory," he said.
"It's not just about the cuts but the uncertainty those cuts create. We don't want residential suburbs here to become dormitory suburbs. We want employment opportunities to be here in this town," Mr Smith said.