Grumbling about Griffintown

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A couple big things happened at the Sud-Ouest borough council meeting tonight. The most important: borough Mayor Jacqueline Monpetit annouced a series of public consultations on redeveloping Griffintown (Mark your calendars: Feb 21, 7pm at the ETS, 1100 Notre-Dame Ouest.) Also important: council adopted it’s urban development framework for the area.

Lots of people seem worried about the development as proposed by Devimco. But so far I haven’t met anyone who is completely against some kind of development plan. In fact, some property owners in the area would like to do their own thing, but they can’t because Griffintown is mostly zoned industrial. They know they’re sitting on valuable property and they don’t want it going to a single company. They certainly don’t want their land expropriated.

Another major concern: why are the consultations being held at the borough level and not through the Office de consultation publique de Montreal. Monpetit says it’s their jurisdiction. Someone then pointed out that an agenda point later on involved calling for the Office to step in on consultations for the CN Rail Yards in Pointe-Saint-Charles. Monpetit said it’s a different situation because no develeper has stepped forward for the CN yard and they wanted to invigorate the discussion. I don’t know about you, but I found her explanation didn’t make much sense.

One woman said even if the Office holds the consultation it won’t make a difference. The area went through this process with the Nordelac development along the Lachine Canal. Despite huge opposition from the community the plan went ahead.

In one conversation I overheard, people were deliberating on whether it was a political move from City Hall to save political face — let the Borough make the unpopular decisions. I’d love to hear your theories…

The borough definitely has its hands full. Along with the The CN rail yards and more condo projects, residents are also raising questions and concerns about the Turcot Interchange overhaul (which isn’t even slated to start this year). An air-quality report is due out soon and apparently one landlord near the interchange has already received notice that he can no longer rent out apartments.

Photo: Chris DeWolf

3 comments

  1. Thanks for being at the meeting and keeping us informed.

    Seems to me that when the borrough goes ahead and changes the established zoning, as Devimco claims that they are doing with regards to building heights etc, there should be a public consultation at an earlier stage. I worry that the official public consultation we’ve all been waiting for will simply be a chance to nitpick about Devimco’s plan. Lets hope that the borrough is open to other ideas…even if they are half-baked at this stage in comparison to what Devimco has concocted over the past year.

  2. Definitely, it appears that the Plan particulier d’urbanisme (PPU) — essentially a special planning document with many changes in zoning, traffic, building heights, demolition permissions etc — was designed by Devimco to suit their project. (Indeed, one of Devimco’s slides made it into the preliminary PPU document).

    The normal process would be the reverse; the city would have consultations with urbanists and citizens, issue a revised PPU, and then solicit proposals from developers — all of which would go through the Office des consultations publiques de Montréal (OCPM).

    At this stage it would appear that it’s best not to be distracted by Devimco’s plans per se, as those are still in flux: we’ll see the final on Feb 21.

    Citizens should be focused on the PPU during this process — if we can ensure that it dictates something more human-scaled and sustainable, Devimco (or any developer) will have to obey.

    The second focus should be the idea that the city needs to hand everything over to one developer. The land-ownership issues here seem to reverse centuries of progress, and could set some very bad precedents for future projects.

  3. I don’t understand why the borough can’t rezone existing land, subdivide where desired, and let individuals do the developing themselves. The last thing Montreal’s downtown needs is yet another inauthentic megaproject.

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