Saying Good-Bye to the Montreal Children’s Hospital
Montreal Children’s Hospital – The former Montreal Children’s Hospital bordering Atwater, Tupper, Lambert Closse and René Levesque in just a few weeks will become a subject of memory. Some years from now photos of what once was an iconic building in the west end or Montreal will be part of the archives of people who, perhaps—as children, were once patients in that hospital. An imposing compound containing two condo towers, some social housing, a community centre, a library, probably a primary school, and some green areas will replace the former structure. The whole project should be completed by 2021.
The decommissioning of the Children’s as a health care facility after the opening of the Glen Super Hospital in NDG was a cause of concern for the neighbours in the downtown area. About two years ago members of the community grouped in the Peter McGill Community Council voiced their concerns about what would be the future for the vacated building. Ideally—it was thought then—the whole structure could be re-dedicated to fulfill some community-oriented needs. They had in mind a community centre (the downtown neighbourhood doesn’t have one), a library, social and affordable housing to help keep families in the area, an elementary school, also with the same goal in mind, and some basic medical facilities. Of course, when the provincial government decided to sell the building to a private developer those dreams were dashed. The only viable thing now was to find some accommodation for the neighbours’ demands within the confines of a private project: whether such objective could be achieved or not remains to be seen. In any case, the developers, the City of Montreal, and the Ville Marie Borough, they all seem committed at least to keep the local community informed. That’s why Divimco Immobilier, the site developer called a public meeting this past Monday where the main phases of the project were highlighted. Representatives from the Borough were there as well to inform about the public works to be undertaken in the area, as a result of the demolition and new construction.
Demolition works, started the week of September 25, would raze the south-east corner of the site, where the parking lot and the main entrance to the hospital used to be (phase “A” of the demolition). The demolition will then continue toward the central installations including the old stack to then go to the final stage of the demolition, phase “D,” which comprises the tallest building at the corner of Tupper and Atwater Avenues. The demolition crew will not use wrecking balls or blasts, resorting instead to a technique that would tear down the buildings from the inside, in that way minimizing noise and the spread of dust, something intended to calm the concerns of nearby residents.
The Borough representatives for their part explained some of the significant changes to the configuration of the streets in the area: the most important, the permanent closing of Lambert Closse south of Tupper. This re-configuration is the result of the City having sold part of that terrain to the developer, and because the Place Henri Dunant which is located there, will be enlarged. This restructuring will also mean important changes to the sewer and water pipelines in the sector; these works should start six weeks after Thanksgiving, with crews working between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Although both, the representatives from the developer company and the Borough did their best to address some of the concerns of the neighbours, some doubts remained. One very pressing issue was the effect that closing Lambert Closse, which presently serves as a way for cars heading to Highway 20, would have on other streets particularly Tupper. There would certainly be an increase in traffic, a representative from the Borough acknowledged, but it is hard to calculate how much the impact would be.
For now, the Children’s Hospital is on the way to become a memory, while the plans to have the former facility to serve a community-oriented purpose were no more than a dream. Only thing now is to see how the commitment of the private developer to include social housing, a community centre and some other facilities for the neighbours is fulfilled. If this project is successful in that regard, it would be a first in our city.