Parking lot or heat island? New plans for future Quebec hospital create controversy

Click to play video: 'Parking lot or heat island?: New plans for future Vaudreuil hospital creating controversy'
Parking lot or heat island?: New plans for future Vaudreuil hospital creating controversy
WATCH: Local leaders in Vaudreuil-Dorion are shocked, surprised and even angered over a change in plans for the long-awaited future hospital. They argue the new plans for a massive ground-level parking lot make no sense. Global’s Gloria Henriquez explains. – Feb 19, 2024

What is being billed as the hospital of the future in Vaudreuil-Dorion will now feature what some are arguing is parking from the past.

“For me, it’s amazing, it’s a nonsense,” said Vaudreuil-Dorion Mayor Guy Pilon.

The area’s long-awaited hospital was supposed to have underground or multi-storey parking when first conceived.

But now the government is replacing it with a ground-level asphalt parking lot — or, as Pilon calls it, a heat island and an irony, as the government recently announced cities must reduce heat islands in their territories as part of a climate plan they must conceive by 2026.

“When I see that, I’m really, really angry. Angry. It’s a nonsense,” Pilon said.

The new parking lot will take up about 5.7 hectares of space and house more than 1,800 parking spots.

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Marie-Claude Nichols, Vaudreuil-Soulanges MNA, says that’s the equivalent of five football fields.

“It’s gonna be terrible for us and also the direction de Santé publique from Quebec also saying the same thing as us,” Nichols said, adding there’s also no social acceptability.

Nichols brought a petition opposing the project to the National Assembly last November. It gathered 2,362 signatures collected by an environmentalist group called Méres au Front.

“We know with all the heatwaves, and all the heat that concentrate in parking lots, it’s not good for the environment,” said Ashley Torres, a member of Méres au Front.

A government agency that oversees infrastructure is in charge of the project, the Société québécoise des infrastructures (SQI).

In an email to Global News, a spokesperson wrote that the single-level parking lot is designed to save money. Anne-Marie Gagnon adds their proposal has been optimized to reduce the heat island effect.

“For example, more than 1,000 trees will be planted and 40 per cent of the parking will be shaded,” Gagnon wrote in part. “Note that we are aiming to obtain a LEED certification, either at a basic or silver level. In that regard, the project must respect the principles of sustainable development, notably in the areas of the building’s energy performance, the choice of materials and the design of the site’s layout.”

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But Vaudreuil Mayor Guy Pilon insists that’s still unacceptable. “They are going completely against their vision” Pilon said.

Pilon promises to keep fighting for the original plan.

Click to play video: 'Quebec secures land for future Vaudreuil hospital project'
Quebec secures land for future Vaudreuil hospital project

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