• John Jantak

Vaudreuil-Soulanges hospital moves forward with farmland expropriation

Barrette calls project detractors on social media ‘a bunch of liars’

PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

From left to right – Yves Masse, Director General and President of the CISSS de la Montérégie-Ouest; Vaudreuil-Dorion Mayor Guy Pilon; Vaudreuil Liberal MNA Marie-Claude Nichols; MRC Prefect and Rivière-Beaudette Mayor Patrick Bousez; Soulanges Liberal MNA Lucie Charlebois, and provincial Health and Social Services Minister Gaétan Barrette, at a press conference to announce the expropriation of 25 acres of farmland in Vaudreuil-Dorion for the site of the Vaudreuil-Soulanges hospital on July 18.

Construction of the long-awaited Vaudreuil-Soulanges hospital took another step forward after provincial Health and Social Services Minister Gaétan Barrette officially announced the province will expropriate a large swath of farmland in Vaudreuil-Dorion for the facility, during a press conference at Vaudreuil-Dorion CLSC on Wednesday, July 18.

“Today the government issued two decrees. The first regards the use of a piece of land for a purpose other than agriculture and the second is to issue expropriation notices to the owners of the 25 acres of land in order to proceed with the hospital project,” said Barrette.

The minister said the expropriation confirms the government’s commitment to proceed with the project. Barrette also sought to dispel pre-election rumours posted on social media that the project may not happen, saying a budget has already been tabled as part of the province’s Plan Québécois des infrastructures for 2018-2028 and there’s no going back now.

‘A bunch of liars’

Another rumour Barrette dismissed was that construction could begin sooner than the current proposed timeframe. Completion of the hospital is scheduled for 2026.

“The steps we have to take cannot be compressed to one day. It’s not an overnight project. If we look at each step we have to take for a project of this magnitude, it’s two years - two years - four years. It’s possible to compress the first two steps and this is what I wish, but I cannot impose it,” said Barrette.

“I don’t think it’s possible to see shovels within one year. This cannot be done. This is not a parking lot we’re building or an apartment. This is a hospital and it has a complexity of its own. The city has to build access roads and stuff like that. There’s a complexity,” he added.

“So whoever comes to you and says they can start construction within a year from now, they are a bunch of liars. And I use that word on purpose. That is impossible. Period. Quote me on that. I hope you do,” said Barrette.

Charlebois’ false rumour stance

Lucie Charlebois, the Liberal Member of the National Assembly (MNA) for Soulanges and Minister for Rehabilitation, Youth Protection and Public Health, supported Barrette’s stance against the false information apparently being spread on social media regarding the Vaudreuil-Soulanges hospital. She has rigorously worked on the hospital dossier after first being elected more than 10 years ago.

“There are some people using Facebook to say everything false to citizens. I think their idea is to make some bad politics. I don’t do bad politics. I don’t intend to use citizens to do my politics. When you post things to people when you have a diploma, there’s only two possibilities for the people who are detracting the project, either you’re lying or you’re ignorant,” said Charlebois.

Nichols praises cooperation

Marie-Claude Nichols, the Liberal MNA for Vaudreuil, is very familiar with the project having been involved with the dossier as former mayor of Notre Dame de l’île Perrot and former Prefect of the Municipalité Régionale de Comté (MRC) de Vaudreuil-Soulanges.

“I’ve been working on this file since 2009 when I was mayor. It’s really good news. I want to say thank you to the municipality of Vaudreuil-Dorion. They were very helpful and provided us with a lot of information. It’s been a great collaborative effort between all the citizens and levels of government involved,” said Nichols.

Pilon looks forward

The 404 bed hospital will be located in Vaudreuil-Dorion on the north side of Boulevard de la Cité-des-Jeunes between Route Harwood and Highway 30. Mayor Guy Pilon said the site was chosen because the farmland apparently wasn’t very arable. He stated all the surrounding land will remain zoned agricultural and is glad the hospital project if finally proceeding.

“As Mr. Barrette said, they can’t go backwards, only forward. This is what we’ve been waiting for. We have a commitment from the government so the city can begin to work on the sewers, water and roads. Now we can be sure that our work can’t be compromised,” said Pilon.

Bousez highlights importance

With the population in the Vaudreuil-Soulanges region continuing to grow as more people move off-island, the need for a regional hospital is more important than ever, said MRC Prefect and Rivière-Beaudette Mayor Patrick Bousez.

“We’re getting closer to our target now. Mr. Barrette said they can’t go back now and we’ll be watching for sure. I have a good feeling about it. This announcement is setting things up for the future and I’m sure this project is now on track. Let’s hope so because we have 23 mayors who will be watching for sure,” said Bousez.

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