Bye Bye Chil­dren's—De­mo­li­tion of iconic build­ing starts soon

Montreal Times - - NEWS - By Ser­gio Martinez mtl­

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.

The first phase of the for­mer Chil­dren's Hos­pi­tal de­mo­li­tion

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