Liberals snubbed at Vaudreuil-Soulanges Hospital ground-breaking event
By Carmen Marie Fabio
PHOTO COURTESY NABIL SORIAL
The heavy machinery is in place at the site of the future Vaudreuil-Soulanges hospital as the ground is prepared for the upcoming construction.
The ground may have ceremoniously been broken on the long awaited Vaudreuil-Soulanges Hospital project on June 14 but those who have been instrumental for years in its lobbying, research, and planning were not invited to the party.
“That’s partisan politics,” said Liberal MNA Marie-Claude Nichols who has been working on the hospital project since 2009 but was not asked to attend the ceremony. “I understand but I find it very disappointing that the mayors of Vaudreuil-Soulanges weren’t invited either.”
CAQ steps into the limelight
The event was hosted by Health Minister Christian Dubé of the Coalition pour l'avenir du Québec (CAQ) party, Soulanges MNA Marilyne Picard and MNA for the Montérégie Simon Jolin-Barrette.
Nichols stressed that the hospital is a project that has been achieved by the Vaudreuil-Soulanges community, its mayors, local business owners, and the MRC (Municipalité régionale de comté) Prefect Patrick Bousez.
“If the Soulanges MNA didn’t invite the Soulanges mayors, that’s her problem. But all the mayors of the Vaudreuil County worked on this dossier and it’s extremely disappointing they weren’t invited.” Normally an announcement of this magnitude would merit the invitation of an MNA in her own county as a measure of respect. When Pauline Marois, former leader of the Parti Québécois, inaugurated the opening of Highway 30, then-Liberal MNA Yvon Marcoux was extended an invitation.
Nichols began her involvement with the citizens' committee for the hospital in 2009 when she was mayor of Notre-Dame-de-l’Île-Perrot, and continued when she became the Vaudreuil-Soulanges MRC Prefect in 2013. Upon her nomination as Vaudreuil MNA in 2016, she worked with Soulanges Liberal MNA Lucie Charlebois to bring the project closer to fruition. In early April of 2016, it was finally announced that the hospital would be built on Cité-des-Jeunes Boulevard in Vaudreuil-Dorion, just southwest of the junction of Highway 30 and Highway 40. The 404 bed facility is budgeted at $1.7 billion.
Upon later seeing a recording of the June 14 press conference, Nichols was surprised to hear Jolin-Barrette say, “Our regards to Mme. Nichols who can’t be with us in person today.”
“For sure I wasn’t there,” she said. “I didn’t receive an invitation.”
Feedback from Mayor Pilon
“It was one of the worst scenarios,” said Vaudreuil-Dorion Mayor Guy Pilon. “I don’t understand. At the bare minimum, the Prefect should have been invited representing the 23 mayors of Vaudreuil-Soulanges. And they should have had the decency to ask Mme. Nichols to be there. It’s the Liberal party who did the background work.”
Pilon himself was initially not invited but heard about the event via the project engineer Pierre Lacoste who’s working on road and water infrastructure related to the project. Pilon’s late invitation was extended just before the ceremony.
“I’m very happy to see these latest steps,” said Pilon. “It’s not just a ground-breaking ceremony. The area is full of heavy equipment and they’re preparing the ground and tearing down the former service station. They’re actually working; they’re not just there for the pictures.” Pilon said that all machinery (excavators, etc.) will arrive via Route Harwood to avoid traffic upsets on Highways 30 and 40 and Cité-des-jeunes.
The hospital is projected to be operational in 2026 and, according to Nichols, “The Liberal party factored in all the construction phases and if there’s a delay, the contractor will face fines. All that’s left to do is for the CAQ party to break ground and announce all the next phases. The hospital project is right on track.”
A request for comment from Marilyne Picard through her press attaché was not returned by press time.