By Doug Sweet
The Quebec government will help support a feasibility study to examine McGill’s proposal to develop the soon-to-be-vacant Royal Victoria Hospital into modern academic and research space, a forum on major Montreal projects was told Friday.
Robert Poëti, Minister of Transport and Minister for the Montreal Region, told the forum sponsored by the Chambre de Commerce du Montréal Métropolitain/Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal, that the government will work with McGill to launch what is expected to be a $8-million, year-long study of a project that could cost about $800 million by the time it’s completed in 2021-22, coinciding with McGill’s 200th anniversary. The government will contribute $4 million to the study, while McGill will contribute the remaining amount.
Principal Suzanne Fortier and Olivier Marcil, Vice-Principal (Communications and External Relations) presented the project to the forum first thing Friday morning and showed a video (see below) outlining McGill’s vision for the old hospital’s future use.
Prof. Fortier said McGill’s project, which would use about 700,000 square feet of space, is vital for a university suffering a substantial space deficit. As well, she said, McGill and the Vic share considerable history and the location is a natural extension of the University’s downtown campus.
Under McGill’s current proposal, some buildings with little or no heritage value, would be demolished and, without adding to the footprint on Mount Royal, be replaced by modern, less-intrusive structures that would provide state-of-the-art teaching and research space. Acquiring the Royal Vic could also provide McGill with an opportunity to build the large, modern auditorium, suitable for events like Convocation, that it has sought for years.
Prof. Fortier noted that McGill’s plans for the Royal Vic not only address academic needs, but also serve the interests of the Montreal community.
Marcil said he was thoroughly pleased with the response to the project at the Chambre de Commerce event.
“It was very positive,” he said in an interview after the presentation. “I think people appreciate the fact we’re offering to provide more green space on the site, better access to Mount Royal for the general public, and have the heritage buildings preserved and used in a way that is appropriate to their original vocation.
“While we are pleased to see the support, but, as the Principal noted, we need to be mindful of all the unknowns we may encounter as this process proceeds. We will not rush blindly ahead; we will be objective and realistic in evaluating what this project could mean for McGill and for Montreal.”
In an interview with The Reporter last year, Provost Anthony C. Masi outlined some of the advantages for McGill.
“When we started our strategic planning exercise over five years ago, looking at the strengths and aspirations of the University, one of the first things we did was look at space requirements over time,” Masi said. “What struck us is that every faculty is under-spaced and, as a consequence, we thought that, over the next 10 years, even if the number of students at the University remained constant, the requirements of additional space for projects, laboratories and the modern way of thinking about learning spaces would require upwards of half a million to a million more square feet.”
View the English video
Voir la vidéo en français