The prefect of Vaudreuil-Soulanges said he’s concerned Quebec’s ministry of health is going to locate the future hospital in the middle of an industrial zone.
Robert Sauvé met reporters Thursday morning to tell them his concerns about the hospital dossier, which has been at a standstill since the fall, waiting for the health ministry to decide on where it will be located.
And while Sauvé said both he, and the residents of the region, will live with any choice the health ministry makes, he is concerned about the site he believes to be the ministry’s preference at this point.
The spot in question is surrounded by industries, Sauvé said, and is difficult to access both through the road network and public transit.
Furthermore, he said it is a rather small parcel of land, which means the regional government’s vision of creating a pole of higher learning around a future hospital with a Cegep, high schools, and even a satellite university campus, would be all but dead. “It’s even a tight spot for a hospital,” said Sauvé, adding the site is also close to a rail line used by trains that occasionally transport hazardous materials.
The site is one of the 23 identified regional bureaucrats in an analysis ordered by the ministry of health. It was also one of the top five that best met the criteria set by the ministry.
Sauvé said the site that was preferred by the regional government, and the regional health authority isn’t being considered at the moment by the ministry.
He suspects the reason is that their preferred site is in land zoned agricultural, while the site in the industrial park has no specific zoning.
Rezoning agricultural land is problematic, because according to the strategic development plan for the region, passed by the Montreal Metropolitan Community last year, agricultural land is supposed to remain untouched. It’s also difficult to dezone agricultural land in the province because it has to be approved by the Commission de protection du territoire agricole du Québec (CPTAQ) – a body charged with protecting agricultural land, which usually declines such requests.
However, Sauvé said the Quebec government can make a decree to order the area to be dezoned. He said the government needs some political courage to make a decision.
“This is a hospital, and it will benefit the entire community,” he said. “We have a crying need for it.”
Because it would be subject to speculation, Sauvé would not give specific details about the sites being considered.
Reached Thursday afternoon, Ariane Lareau, a spokesperson for Health Minister Réjean Hébert, said she wouldn’t comment on speculation since a site has not yet been chosen.
She said the file is progressing, but the ministry is not yet ready to choose the site.
“We’ll live with any decision the minister makes,” Sauvé said. “But he has to take a position, and he has to have the courage to make an announcement.”