Les amis de la montagne Urge the Québec Government to Act Now in the Matter of Finding a New Vocation for Royal Victoria Hospital’s Landmark Buildings and Grounds

2015-02-18

February 16, 2015 – On Tuesday, February 10, 2015, Ici Radio-Canada Télé broadcasted a report by Jean-Sébastien Cloutier on the future of the Royal Victoria Hospital on its 6 p.m. Téléjournal, and also published a web article on the same topic. Les amis de la montagne wish to take this timely opportunity to state their position on the re-use of excess hospital complexes set within the perimeter of the Mount Royal Heritage Site.

Les amis de la montagne attach the utmost importance to the future of the landmark buildings and grounds of the Royal Victoria Hospital and the Hôtel-Dieu de Montréal, both located on the Québec declared Site patrimonial du Mont-Royal (Mount Royal Heritage Site). These highly symbolic and emblematic buildings are paramount to the history of Montréal. 

At the 2013 Sommet du Mont-Royal organised by Les amis de la montagne and the city of Montreal’s Bureau du Mont-Royal, Les amis flagged as a major and urgent issue the future of institutional building complexes located on Mount Royal. As the Group of experts on the future of Montréal’s excess hospital buildings commissioned by the Québec Government began its work in the fall of 2013, Les amis were quick to propose a number of general guidelines, including:  

  • preserve and showcase the heritage character of these sites;
  • maintain the public vocation of these buildings and grounds, and develop their community-focussed purpose;
  • maintain public access to the grounds of these institutions and, wherever possible, to their buildings; 
  • maintain the public property status of the grounds on which these institutions are built; 
  • create a government-led governing body involving city of Montréal officials as well as local institutions and organisations, and adopt a planning process to develop an overall vision for the re-use of excess hospitals which will guide the identification of appropriate projects. 

The Royal Victoria Hospital and the Hôtel-Dieu de Montréal will respectively be vacated in 2015 and 2016. It is imperative to move forward on the matter of finding a new vocation for these building complexes.  

The Royal Victoria Hospital demands urgent attention as its buildings will be vacated on April 26, 2015. 

The prospect of this vast landmark complex, barricaded and threatened with dereliction, is likely to become reality, a new symbol of urban decay in the heart of Montreal visible to all who cast their glance toward the mountain.  

Despite several calls for action, the Québec Government has not responded to the recommendations made by the Group of experts whose final report of March 31, 2014, underscores the urgent need for action, as well as the risks and consequences of further inertia. The need for a new vocation for the Royal Victoria Hospital has been common knowledge for over fifteen years. 

The proposal announced last spring by McGill University for the re-use of the Royal Victoria requires extensive studies to verify its feasibility. These studies, for which the government has promised its support, must be conducted urgently. 

We are still awaiting the public announcement promised by the Québec Government last fall. Expectations are high. Les amis de la montagne hope that the Government will adopt the recommendations made by the Group of experts commissioned to provide counsel on the future of Montreal’s excess hospitals, including the creation of a body to see the work to fruition – with the city of Montréal and the ministries and agencies concerned – intelligently, efficiently, in a spirit of transparency and with the full support of Montrealers. 

Les amis de la montagne is a registered charitable organization dedicated to the protection and enhancement of Mount Royal through community involvement and environmental education.