In November 2004, the nine member organizations of the Concertation Interquartiers (CIQ) and the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) signed a Partnership Agreement regarding the new hospital to be built at the Glen Campus. Both parties agreed to work together to maximize the positive impacts of the hospital and specified an open list of areas of common concern, including economic development, employment, housing, transportation and health care delivery.
Armed with this agreement, the new inter-neighbourhood coalition, with hospital support, started to explore how to implement it. In 2005, the CIQ drafted a question for graduate students at McGill’s School of Urban Planning: can you find us some examples of mega-projects that have collaborated with communities, and that have achieved some interesting results? The students came back with nine examples, including one excellent example from Montreal, and one exciting example of Yale University’s mega-cancer research centre collaborating with a low-income neighbourhood to create housing, unionized fair-wage jobs and job training for local residents.
Inspired by the exceptional work done by students, the CIQ continued to work with McGill’s School of Urban Planning. In 2007, they together applied for a five-year action-research grant called a community-university research alliance (CURA) from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). Researchers from 5 Montreal universities and more than a dozen community groups from NDG, Westmount and Saint-Henri partnered in the CURA application. The MUHC supplied a letter of support for this collaboration, but it is not one of the research partners.
The application was accepted, and the CURA launched in January 2008 under the name Making Mega-Projects Work for Communities.
Since 2008, and with research support from the CURA, the CIQ has been working with the MUHC in an effort to influence the evolution of the hospital. This core work since 2008 has been the development of a made-in-Montreal version of a “community benefits agreement“. This renewed agreement, detailed in this website, is the result of more than 3 years of effort.
Seven years after the signing of the original agreement, as the selection of the builder-manager of the MUHC’s Glen Campus facilities has been announced and construction underway, the MUHC and the CIQ are launching into a new phase of collaboration, which we all hope will benefit our hospital and enable it to become an exemplary anchor institution in our neighbourhoods:
- a major employer of local residents (employment);
- a purchaser of goods and services from local suppliers (economic development),
- a supporter of positive change in the surrounding neighbourhoods (urban integration);
- a collaborator on innovative housing solutions for workers and community (housing);
- a good neighbour working to reduce the use of “auto-solo” among its employees (transport).