McGill University unveiled an ambitious project Thursday to repurpose and redevelop the Royal Victoria Hospital once the MUHC superhospital opens.

McGill desperately needs more space, and the hospital site is practically on campus .

“Our goal is to use the site for academic purposes, so we will keep the institutional vocation of the site but as well use it as an opportunity for the Montreal community to (take back) the mountain,” said Olivier Marcil, vice president of external relations at McGill.

The preliminary plan includes greening over the parking lot, demolishing some newer buildings and remodeling the older sections of the institution.

But like any proposed project for the soon to be vacated buildings, it can't go ahead without government approval.

At a public meeting Thursday, everyone agreed - the clock is ticking and the new Liberal government needs to make some decisions, fast.

“The fact that McGill is taking this seriously is very encouraging, said Dinu Bumbaru, policy director at Heritage Montreal.

“We'd like to see the same thing happening with Hotel Dieu (Hospital) which is a monument in its own right. For Heritage Montreal . . . our big interest is that the site the grounds stay in the public domain.”

Any plan will take many millions to be realized, financing McGill will need to find.

There is no viable project for Hotel Dieu, slated to be closed in two years as the new CHUM superhospital nears completion.

And without a plan, the province will be pouring “millions of dollars” to maintain an empty building, said Alex Norris, city councilor for the Plateau – Mont Royal borough.

Interest groups are waiting for the Liberals to release recommendations from an expert report turned over to the PQ government before the election to see which proposal tops the list.