Chelsea fights hospital location
Chelsea doesn’t want to see the new mega-hospital built on its territory.
At its March 8 meeting, Chelsea council adopted a resolution expressing concerns about increased traffic and the environmental impacts that the new, 600-bed hospital could have on the municipality.
The resolution came after Quebec announced that it is eyeing a location on Boulevard de la Technologie as the location for the future affiliated university hospital centre (CHAU), which touches on the southern tip of Chelsea.
“This location, a few hundred metres south of the municipality of Chelsea, would generate a significant increase in traffic on the main arterial roads in the area, which are not designed to accommodate a flow of patients, visitors and thousands of employees to the hospital centre each day,” Chelsea council said in a statement.
Councillors also questioned the environmental impacts such a project would have on existing natural areas, particularly in the vicinity of Chelsea Creek.
“The choice of a site adjacent to a semi-rural area could have significant negative effects on the natural environment, ecological areas and endangered species,” council said.
Council added that the 600- bed, three million-square-foot, $2.5 billion hospital would harm those who call Chelsea home.
“The municipal council asks the Quebec government to prioritize sites in downtown Gatineau for the construction of the CHAU in order to avoid urban sprawl, promote public transit, protect natural environments and take into account population growth and long-term economic development,” council said in a statement. “It also calls on the government to strive to provide barrier-free and equitable access to health services for all Outaouais residents.”
Gatineau MNA Robert Bussière told the Low Down that the decision on where the new hospital will go “is not going to be a political choice.”
“There are specialists that we have given the mandate to choose the best site,” said Bussière. “And it’s not a small hospital.”
CISSSO’s February 2021 clinical plan recommends reducing beds in the Wakefield Hospital, which could force more patients into the city where more services are available. Despite this plan, Bussière stated the reduction of beds in Wakefield was simply “speculation.”
“The population is growing rapidly in the Outaouais. By the time the hospital is built, it’s going to be maybe five or six years before it’s operational,” he said. Bussière added that the province hopes to produce more of its own doctors so patients won’t have to drive to Montreal for certain surgeries.
La Pêche Mayor Guillaume Lamoureux and former Chelsea mayor Caryl Green, who just entered the race for the Gatineau Liberal candidacy, agree that the new hospital should be built closer to public transit.