Save Griffintown!

More news and op-ed by ajkandy
February 7, 2008, 11:58 am
Filed under: media, news, op-ed

by A.J. Kandy

The Gazette’s Jason Magder interviews Chris Gobeil and yours truly for a short piece on the need for alternative plans for Griffintown. He also reports on a proposal from an American company that specializes in medical tourism (wha?) to set up a private luxury hospital-spa-hotel at the eastern edge of the site.

Henry Aubin has another op-ed piece, Griffintown: We must do it right.


Hey AJ,

Great article in the Gazette. You are right about the necessity of a long-lasting project, and only something sustainable can withstand the test of time. I am not talking about building methods (this is implied), but about mixed-use applications that are active and in demand year-round.

Medical tourism (also called medical travel or health tourism) is a term initially coined by travel agencies and the mass media to describe the rapidly-growing practice of traveling to another country to obtain health care. More recently, the phrase “Global Healthcare” has emerged, and may replace the earlier terms.
Such services typically include elective procedures as well as complex specialized surgeries such as joint replacement (knee/hip), cardiac surgery, dental surgery, and cosmetic surgeries. The provider and customer use informal channels of communication-connection-contract, with less regulatory or legal oversight to assure quality and less formal recourse to reimbursement or redress, if needed.
Leisure aspects typically associated with travel and tourism may also be included on such medical travels. (All this info and more at Wikipedia)

Comment by StatusQuo

Thanks for the definition. I knew what medical tourism was, but I’m more a bit surprised that people would think of Montreal as a medi-tourism destination. Also, the whole idea is just a little bit…odd to me 🙂

Comment by ajkandy


We need to think in terms of long-lasting vision, of applications that are in demand and that will attract people to the future downtown core for decades to come. In other words, we must think outside the box. Surely, the medical tourism seems odd at first glance. However, upon further examination and study of this proposal, we see that the hospital is only a part of the peel basin development which would include a movie theater, shops, restaurants, conference rooms, office towers, a hotel, and a helicopter landing pad (yay!). It’s important at this stage not to fixate on a portion of a development as though it is the entire thing. At this point, we need to look at a development in its entirety in order to understand it’s overall functioning and its consequent benefits to the local and international communities. To be able to speak on one aspect of such a development, we must engage ourselves in research of the aspect, as well as the precedents of such an aspect. Check the wiki site.
As I recall, the internet is an application that was viewed as odd initially until the late 90s, and didn’t enjoy success until the kinks were worked out…based on user feedback from proper research and sufficient practice. I don’t know if this is relevant to the topic, but my point is we need to have vision.

Comment by StatusQuo

I agree we need vision. The question one has to ask is, what is it we are actually looking at?

One of the driving reasons we created our original presentation, and critique this kind of development, is that its underlying economic assumptions are flawed and short-term in nature.

While it’s not quite lodged into the public’s consciousness yet, most oil industry geologists agree we are basically at the “peak” of energy production now. Discoveries have already tailed off, and we’re now basically just using up what we’ve found. With energy demands rising faster than production — and the reality of climate change leading us to try to cap what fossil fuels we’re using now — our entire energy-hungry industrial economy can either ramp itself down to something more sustainable (intentional powerdown), or we’ll suffer a crash.

Some would say that we’re starting to see this crash now — the rise in energy prices has created a knock-on effect for all manufactured goods and energy-dependent services, hence an economic slowdown that may turn into a permanent recession.

No energy = no jets or cars = drastic drop in tourism.

No energy = no global economy = no national chain retail.

It all adds up. To build something at this point in time based on the assumption that our resources are limitless and economic growth is infinite is doomed to failure.

Comment by ajkandy

Perhaps you are right AJ, but I believe your options of an intentional powerdown or a resulting crash will and must lead to the rise of alternative energies. Progress is the nature of man’s evolution, not regression. Have you seen that movie, Who Killed the Electric Car? Awesome to find out what kind of technologies have been available for years.

Matter of fact, did you know that the building on which the peel basin project is proposed is downtown Montreal’s first geothermally heated and cooled structure? That’s right, in the mid 90s, before LEED accreditations were even a spark in somebody’s mind, the building’s owner defiantly installed a geothermal system that has since heated and cooled the building without any GHGs, and with a considerably reduced electrical bill.

I believe mankind can and will continue to evolve in the progressive direction it is headed. As we move out of the industrial revolution and into the information age, we are discovering and implementing various types of alternative energy sources in order to reduce our dependency on peak oil. The rise in energy prices has more to do with the crash of the American greenback than the production of oil. In 2002, before the iraq war popped off, oil was at 28$/barrel…nowadays, after trillions are spent outside the country, and more and more US money is printed out of thin air, we can expect a slip in the usd value, and a consequent increase in all imports, particularly oil and gold. As the usd is replaced as a world standard with a more sound currency like the euro, it is quite likely that the american economy will tumble some more, and that we see a north american union similar to the european union emerge from the debris. What do you think they were talkin bout over at montebello last time?

Comment by StatusQuo

I’m not going to leave a lengthy response to this, but merely going to say I have a blog post in the works addressing this issue. But to sum it up briefly, technology does not equal energy, and the energy appetite of the world at the moment — including “the oil we eat” embedded in food production — cannot be met, even if we switched to all-sustainable sources overnight. Hydrocarbons represent a one-time bonanza of millions of years of stored sunlight energy, and we’ve essentially used it all up in a century or so.

We need to combine sustainable energy production with a massive decrease in energy demand — which requires that we modify or abandon our current energy-hogging economic system and living arrangements. This process will not be without political mischief and we are in for interesting times.

Comment by ajkandy

Darn right.
Looking forward to that post.

Comment by StatusQuo

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