City keeps close watch over plans

By Monique Muise, The Gazette
No construction project exists in a vacuum.
Any time a new condo building, office tower or big-box store goes up, it alters the landscape of the city around it, and the city's government has a responsibility to ensure the project fits into those surroundings and is beneficial to residents.
In the case of the McGill University Health Centre's new superhospital, the stakes were particularly high. Beyond the fact that it is a large-scale project that will require major alterations to municipal infrastructure, the hospital will also play a vital role in the community.
The city of Montreal has been intimately involved in all aspects of the work from the beginning, said Alain Trudeau, who serves as a project manager for the city on the Glen site.
"The city has a lot of work to do in order to improve the access to the site, and to improve the infrastructure," Trudeau said. "I'm in charge of the municipal side of the work."
Some of that work includes the widening of Decarie Blvd., which is under way, and the tearing up of existing sewer lines and aqueducts to replace them with pipes that can handle the increased output from the Glen.
The road and infrastructure upgrades are expected to cost $90 million, and are being financed jointly by Transport Quebec, the MUHC and the city.
"The city is implementing lots of new ways of approaching this kind of work," Trudeau said. "We have an office called the Bureau des grands projets, where we're using these new strategies for project management."
An example of one of these new approaches is to break major projects like the Decarie refit into smaller chunks -allowing for more efficient planning of each stage. Representatives from the city and the MUHC meet every week, Trudeau said, and sometimes up to three times a week, to iron out the details.
"We have a lot of municipal employees discussing communication, budget, calendar, and reviewing the design of the (roadwork) plan," he said.
In addition to this day-to-day consultation, MUHC spokesperson Julie Paquet said the city also has a role to play in the construction of the hospital itself.
"The property developer needs to work with the city for a number of approvals," Paquet said. "The MUHC had already completed the zoning change process in 2005, but the development team still needs to present the project to the local Comite consultatif d'urbanisme in order to get their construction permit."
Finally, the city is represented by three people at the monthly meetings of the Good Neighbourly Relations Committee -which also includes members of the superhospital's construction consortium, representatives from the MUHC and local residents.
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Reposted with permission from The Gazette.