Veterans’ Hospital transfer will bring hefty bill to taxpayers

Mayor Hawa sees the transfer as an opportunity for the town

By Kevin Woodhouse

The Veterans’ Hospital in Ste. Anne de Bellevue will one day transfer from federal to provincial jurisdiction and that is expected either late this year or in early 2015. And while the hospital will continue to serve Canada’s veterans, the Liberal Party of Quebec is hoping that the hospital, which currently has 100 empty beds available, would one day be a centre for geriatrics or for long-term patient needs.

“This could be an enormous opportunity,” said Jacques Cartier incumbent Geoffrey Kelley at a recent press conference.

Kelley spoke about the hospital being able to take away the chronic overcrowding experienced at the Lakeshore General Hospital where many West Island residents who do not have access to a family doctor have to turn.

But the new hospital will come with a hefty price tag in the form of a $2 million tax bill for residents. Under federal jurisdiction, 100 per cent of taxes are covered while at the provincial level, that ratio drops to 50 per cent.

But Mayor Paola Hawa does not think the sky is falling since discussions have been ongoing “with the provincial government to help minimize the hit as well as talking about offsetting the tax burden with additional revenue streams from the adjoining lands.”

Hawa noted that the city might reach an arrangement to develop some of the Veterans’ Hospital surrounding land. Hawa also thinks the influx of new staff, doctors and visitors to the hospital will bring more people to the city’s business district.

“This could be an opportunity for the city to turn this into a positive,” Hawa told The Suburban. “We should not panic yet as there could be some economic offshoots for Ste. Anne.”

When asked about the hefty tax bill levied on the citizens of Ste. Anne de Bellevue when the transfer takes place, Kelley told The Suburban that the federal government takes care of 100 percent of municipal taxes from the hospital while the provincial’s contribution is only half of that, leaving residents with a $2 million balance.

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