OCPM believes Montréal General Hospital expansion should be the last



    MONTREAL, Aug. 26 /CNW Telbec/ - The Office de consultation publique de
Montréal (OCPM) announces today the publication of its report on the expansion
project for the Montréal General Hospital (MUHC). Having given the Office the
mandate to hold a consultation on the project, city council also requested
that its impact on proposals set forth in the Mount Royal Master Protection
and Enhancement Plan be examined, as the draft by-law pertaining to the
hospital is, in a way, a first application of the City's chosen approach to
protecting Mount Royal. The commission on the MUHC project was led by André
Beauchamp, accompanied by Hélène Morais and Peter Jacobs. The consultation was
held in May and June, and sixteen briefs and oral presentations were received.
    The three main components of the MUHC project on the site of the Montréal
General Hospital are as follows:

    
    - The addition of seven storeys to the building's main pavilion
      (Pavilion C), primarily in order to retrofit rooms for patients;

    - The construction of a six-level underground parking garage and a new
      five-storey building in the west yard, which would serve to restructure
      the emergency and operating rooms;

    - The widening of Pavilions A and B on Pine Avenue, to allow the
      construction of a new nine-storey pavilion to house the Neurological
      Hospital.

    Taking into account only new above-ground surfaces, the proposed expansion
involves a net area of 29,896 square metres, a 30.9% increase over the
existing net floor area.
    At the completion of the consultation and its work, the commission
believes that the expansion project for the Montréal General Hospital should
be examined in the light of the required strengthening of long-term protection
measures for Mount Royal.
    The commission is not convinced that such an expansion at the mountain
campus is justified. Along with many others, it would have preferred that the
future clinical organization of the hospital take place within existing
buildings, with no expansion. However, given the advanced state of the
project, it understands that these decisions no longer rest in the hands of
the City of Montréal, and that the mandate of the Office de consultation
publique does not directly cover them.
    Furthermore, it notes that if the merits of the Montréal General Hospital
project were brought into question during the public consultation, it is
because it involves a sizeable expansion at the very heart of the historic and
natural borough of Mont-Royal. It is perceived by many of the individuals and
organizations consulted as a threat to the natural and cultural heritage of
the mountain.
    "This expansion project follows other recent development projects. We
believe, like many participants at the hearings, that the combined impact of
development in recent years has been considerable, that the slopes of Mount
Royal are already overcrowded, and that we must question the mountain's
capacity to hold new constructions," says Office de consultation publique
president Louise Roy.
    She believes that the Montréal General Hospital expansion project only
becomes legitimate and relevant if much stronger guarantees are established to
ensure greater protection for Mount Royal in future. In that respect, measures
applicable to institutional properties in the Mount Royal Master Protection
and Enhancement Plan should be strengthened.
    By the same token, the commission finds that the MUHC project is
acceptable only if it provides an opportunity to better integrate the hospital
into its built environment and the mountain. It believes that the following
four additional conditions are essential:

    - The MUHC must submit a more complete landscaping plan, incorporating
      re-naturalization initiatives and maintenance strategies, to promote a
      better integration of the Montréal General Hospital site into its
      natural and cultural environment. In addition to existing strategies,
      the plan must provide for the re-naturalization of areas located on
      either side of the entrance to the tiered parking facility, and the
      planting of trees in and around the outdoor parking lot along Pine
      Avenue.
      Moreover, commitments made by the MUHC under the Heritage Pact must be
      spelled out, and take the form of contractual agreements with the City
      of Montréal. Lastly, some portions of the site must be included in the
      network of natural spaces to be protected by the City.

    - The City of Montréal must re-evaluate the visual impact of Pavilion C,
      to determine under what conditions the increased height might be
      acceptable, and thereby prevent any increase of the Montréal General's
      visual mass in the landscape.

    - Beyond the planned expansion, the by-law must be reviewed and tightened
      to ensure its power to prevent further construction on an already
      crowded site.

    - The number of parking spaces authorized under draft By-law P-08-012
      should not exceed 945. Furthermore, in the spirit of the recently
      released Transportation Plan, the commission supports the efforts of
      the MUHC in encouraging its staff to use public transportation on a
      more regular basis.
    

    The commission also adds a few complementary recommendations relating to
the architectural treatment of the project, and to the importance of the
MUHC's leaving room for debate, thereby allowing the public to react, as
required, on aspects of the project yet to be completed.
    The documentation related to the consultation, including the report, is
available in electronic format on the Web site of the Office de consultation
publique de Montréal (www.ocpm.qc.ca) and, in print form, at the offices of
the OCPM during regular business hours.




For further information:

For further information: Luc Doray, (514) 872-3568, Cell.: (514)
977-8365


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