/R E P E A T -- General Hospital expansion: OCPM finds increased hospital presence on mountain and Cedar Avenue undesirable/

MONTREAL, Sept. 13, 2011 /CNW Telbec/ - The Office de consultation publique de Montréal makes public today the report on the consultation held last spring on an expansion project for the Montreal General Hospital. The MUHC is planning changes requiring the adoption of new legislative amendments. It is important to note that a first draft by-law, adopted under section 89 of the Charter of Ville de Montréal, was the subject of consultations held by the Office in 2008, and was adopted by city council.

The new project differs from the one adopted in a number of ways. Firstly, contrary to original plans, the Institut et Hôpital neurologiques de Montréal will not be established on the Montreal General site, also known as the MUHC de la Montage campus. Moreover, the new plans call for the integration of a building acquired by the hospital and located at 1750 Cedar Avenue. The conversion of the existing buildings will therefore not be as extensive as originally expected. The planned underground parking garage is also being replaced by a partially underground indoor parking facility.

The mandate entrusted to the Office by municipal authorities asked that the OCPM monitor the development of the MUHC project, in light of the recommendations included in its 2008 report, while focusing primarily on a number of issues: the impact of the change in use of 1750 Cedar in terms of the objectives of the Montréal Master Plan and the Mount Royal Master Protection and Enhancement Plan; the impact on neighbouring residential areas and on Cedar Avenue in particular; the integration of new constructions into the hospital complex; the landscaping concept; and the development agreement.

First and foremost, although the project examined in public consultation does not involve new encroachments on green spaces, it amplifies the hospital's presence on the mountain side and, in that respect, goes against the intentions of the 2008 project. In light of the consultation and its analysis, and given the inherent fragility of the historic and natural borough of Mount-Royal, the commission believes that this development option involving a greater presence on Cedar Avenue is not desirable.

The hospital enjoys the privilege of sitting within the fragile environment of the historic and natural borough of Mont-Royal, a location that entails certain responsibilities. On May 20, 2010, the Montréal city council adopted a resolution reflecting a strict interpretation of the mountain's capacity to support new developments, a central element of the Mount Royal Master Protection and Enhancement Plan. This decision, limiting expansion projects to existing building volumes, cannot be ignored in examining the current project, although it was applied in the context of the old philosophy seminar. It is difficult to reconcile the extension of hospital functions beyond the hospital site with city council's interpretation.

In a context where the 1750-Cedar option seems incompatible with municipal policies and long-term protection measures for the mountain, the burden of proof, in terms of the necessity of 1750 Cedar, rests with the MUHC. That being said, the idea that outpatient clinics could not be housed elsewhere within the hospital site at a reasonable cost, in accordance with the principles set out in MUHC 2008, was not convincingly demonstrated in public consultation.

The commission is in favour of the proposed changes to the hospital site. However, in light of the documents and presentation supporting the MUHC request, it does not recommend the change in use for 1750 Cedar. Previous endeavours and MUHC commitments made to date to carry out the development project within the existing footprint, the city council's decision regarding the mountain's capacity to support new developments, and additional traffic and nuisances to be expected on Cedar Avenue, should induce the MUHC and the city to continue to work to find a solution that is more respectful of the surrounding area.

All available information on the project may be obtained at the offices of the OCPM, at 1550 Metcalfe Street, Suite 1414, and at the Direction du greffe at City Hall, at 275 Notre-Dame Street East. The documentation is also available on the Office Web site, at www.ocpm.qc.ca.

SOURCE OFFICE DE CONSULTATION PUBLIQUE DE MONTREAL

For further information:

Luc Doray
514 872-3568
514 977-8365 (Cell.)

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