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NDG residents air out grievances at MUHC information session
Article mis en ligne le jeudi 23 septembre 2010
Photo Anja Karadeglija
An audience member addresses the panel at an information session on the new MUHC superhospital.

Stress balls in the shape of construction helmets were given out at the information session on the MUHC superhospital – a prescient choice, given the mood that would dominate the meeting.

The Sept 14. session started with a presentation covering the construction and future use of the site, but was followed by a question and answer session, which many citizens used as an outlet for their complaints.

Many of those packed into the space at the KoSA Arts Centre were worried about the effect of the new development on residents, citing problems like noise, traffic and dirt.

“It concerns me that there is so much frustration,” said Sharon Leslie, an NDG resident who has been working on the issue through the NDG Community Council for years.

She added that there has been a lack of communication between the community and the city, the borough, and the McGill University Health Centre.

“It has been so difficult to get information, let alone have input... they waited to do this, when there are a ton of different subjects and when the irritants have started to happen for the people in the immediate vicinity – so I think that’s where some of the anger and frustration was coming from,” Leslie explained.

The panel, made up of representatives from the city, the borough, SNC-Lavalin, and the MUHC, gave a presentation that included information on construction, what the site will look like, and the services that will be offered. The complex will eventually include the Montreal Children’s Hospital, a cancer centre, the Royal Victoria Hospital, the Research Institute of the MUHC, and the Montreal Chest Institute.

Part of the presentation was devoted to how inconveniences to residents will be minimized. For example, a noise barrier has been erected and work must stop by midnight.

The presentation included information about how traffic, pedestrians, public transit users and cyclists will be affected by the work taking place.

At one point, some residents expressed anger at the fact that the presentation was given largely in French.

Then the floor was turned over to the audience. Many of the questions and concerns centered around transit, including queries about how cyclists and those using public transportation will be accommodated.

Some residents expressed concerns about noise, debris and dirt, while others complained about a lack of communication from those responsible for the project.

Councillor Peter McQueen, one of the local politicians in attendance, said that he was not surprised by the anger he witnessed. The meeting attempted to cover too many issues, and meetings should have started before the building began, he said.

“I think things are spinning fairly out of control, as in things are building, a lot of issues are building,” McQueen said.

“If they don’t want meetings like this or worse… an honest discussion has got to begin.”

[Anja Karadeglija]

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