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Héritage Montréal and Les amis de la montagne co-sign a letter in The Gazette
On December 17, 2010, The Gazette published an article titled, “Heirs want say on Royal Vic site” that describes the efforts made by one of the descendants of the founders of the Royal Victoria Hospital to prevent the sale of the property located on the southern flank of Mount Royal to private developers. The hospital is slated to move to the McGill University Health Centre’s (MUHC) new superhospital site on the former Glen rail yards in 2014 or 2015. In the article, Mrs. Elspeth Angus states that her ancestors, Sir George Stephen and Sir Donald Smith, donated the land in 1893 for the express use by the Royal Victoria Hospital as a benefit to the entire community and her efforts are intended to honour the wishes of these land donors.
Les amis de la montagne are concerned about the future vocation of the hospital property, which occupies more than 1 million square feet on the mountain, all the more since clear rules and guidelines concerning the protection of institutional domains on the mountain in full mutation are yet to be defined.
In reaction to the article, The Gazette published a letter on January 6, 2011, co-signed by Héritage Montréal and Les amis de la montagne supporting the position of Mrs. Angus. The letter, sent on December 24th, states that the Royal Victoria Hospital is more than a simple property, but a collection of heritage elements that provides access to the mountain and that should continue to serve the public interest in its reuse strategy. The MUHC should also be obliged to engage in a transparent planning process with regards the expansion and uses of its properties on the mountain in order to ensure that commitments made to the community are upheld.
Prior to publishing the letter signed by Héritage and Les amis, The Gazette published an editorial on December 30, 2010, favouring the Royal Victoria Hospital’s conversion into luxury housing.
Letter to the Editor of The Gazette
Re: “Heirs want say on Royal Vic site” (The Gazette, December 17)
Mrs. Angus and descendants of the families of the two founding donors of the Royal Victoria Hospital are right in reminding everyone of the original purpose and obligations for this great Montreal landmark. This is not just another piece of real estate ready to be auctioned to speculators but a site dedicated to be used for the benefit of the community.
These concerns are very timely since they resonate with others on the way the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) is planning its construction project on its other huge Mountain property: the Montreal General Hospital (MGH). In 2008, the MUHC made a commitment to confine any expansion within the current footprint of the MGH but now this commitment seems to be in question. As with the Royal Vic, this site is within the protected heritage district of Mount Royal declared by the Quebec Government. This fact requires that the future of the Montreal General Hospital be considered transparently and with great care employing all of the standards which apply to project located within the protected district.
As community organizations, Heritage Montreal and Les amis de la montagne are deeply concerned about the future of the MUHC properties on the Mountain. Whether in terms of their expansion or disposition, there is a definite need for independent planning and consultation process, and effective oversight to ensure that commitments made to the community are respected. 2011 is the year to do this in order to avoid yet another divisive development which breaches the rules we have all committed to for our beloved Mont Royal.
Dinu Bumbaru (Policy Director, Héritage Montréal)
Sylvie Guilbault (Executive Director, Les amis de la montagne)