A New Opportunity

After decades of operation, the Hippodrome, once known as Blue Bonnets, has closed its doors for good. Although this will have negative ramifications for Quebec’s horse-breeding industry, it presents a great opportunity for urban development. The site is centrally located, just off the Décarie expressway and within walking distance of the Namur metro station. If developed properly, the site could be home to thousands of families who would likely use public transportation. The site as it stands now, is relatively isolated from neighboring residential areas. This isolation could be resolved by connecting the missing links in the west end grid. The redevelopment of the Hippodrome could lead to the connection of Jean Talon in Montreal to Kildare in Cote Saint Luc. Such a link would provide residential contiguity between the new development and an existing built up residential community. The link would also have great benefits to Cote Saint Luc. Motorists would have a faster access to the Décarie expressway. The 92 bus route could be extended into Cote Saint Luc and provide faster metro access to public transit users. The improvement of the grid is important for healing the urban fabric of Montreal torn apart by highway construction. A more complete grid is one in which mobility is easier for pedestrians and public transit users.

23 comments

  1. Everything you wrote is true, however I can’t help but feel like Montreal is losing a huge swath of green space right between an industrial and residential area. the city should obligate green space for future developments on the site.

    From City Farmer, Canada’s Office of Urban Agriculture:

    “In some parts of Germany, new industrial buildings must have green roofs by law; in Swiss cities, regulations now require new construction to relocate the area of greenspace covered up by the building’s footprint to the rooftop – and even existing buildings, some hundreds of years old, must convert 20% of their roofspace to pasture.”

    http://www.cityfarmer.org/roofmonica61.html

  2. I think the site is large enough it could include some green space, and I don’t think it’s losing that much as it’s not public space you’re talking about. With the exception of the industrial area to the north it doesn’t seem like the surrounding neighborhoods are necessarily lacking in this respect. Surrounded by, at best semi-suburban development already dotted with parks, I would imagine that a too-large, vacant green space while looking nice and pretty would be empty of people most of the time and potentially attract vice.

    Connecting these neighborhoods is more important, and I think including a large residential development could be potentially successful, especially considering its proximity to the Orange Line.

    I’m not really sure how requiring new industrial buildings to have a green roof relates to what you are suggesting. Can you elaborate on what you think should be done with the space? Generous green space requirements often result in bland suburban-style developments that are inconvenient for pedestrians (due to the further distance between them and amenities) and stifle traditional vibrancy. On the other hand, I could easily imagine a small park surrounded by fairly dense residential development working well here.

  3. Without a doubt, the street grids need to be connected and established. I’d love to see an urban plan for this section that is based on the way we USED to develop the city. That is, urban, rather than suburban, with appropriate density given the area. Also, Montreal has a tradition of a street grid inclusive of many public squares (especially in the original city center) and I would like to see urban squares dotting the area. The fact that the orange line is in close proximity and that the stations are relatively quiet ones means that higher density in this centralized sector is not only desirable but efficient.

  4. Absolutely agree with Edward. Greening a city doesn’t mean great tracts of lawn; it most of all means more trees and bushes, and why not green roofs, especially on larger buildings? If not, you wind up with something like Ottawa South, which looks nice and green but is not very pedestrian, public transport and bicycle friendly. A street grid with public squares – and also playing fields and small parks with play equipment for children.

    Density does not necessarily have to mean only highrise apartments. They can be appropriate for some purposes and in some areas, but the traditional triplex is also a fine urban form, and doesn’t require the energy for lifts, except for disabled people.

  5. I also agree with Edward, and I think Maria made some excellent points. I’m not sure exactly how green roofs relate to pedestrian environments (and I hope nobody was suggesting towers-in-the-park) but sure, green roofs sound great. I think the site is large enough and close enough to the city core that the potential exists for a truly stellar development beneficial to the surrounding areas. Triplexes have the added bonus of being more versatile as needs and habits change. Let’s hope it doesn’t turn into a mega-project.

  6. It would be nice if some common sense was used in developing the Blue Bonnets land.

    However, once you get greedy developers and their compatriots at City Hall who maximize their commissions and taxes, it will become mostly high-density slum condos or high-price luxury dwellings.

    The other problem, as Hampstead found out when the punched Fleet thru to Cote St Luc in the sixties, was that everyone and his cat had a new way to to thru from Decarie to Cavendish after that Cavendish underpass was built c. 1964.

    Poor folks who once resided in semi-isolation in the old Cul de Sac along Fleet.

    Good idea! Push Kildare and Mackle thru to the East beneath the once-CPR Hump to Decarie.

    Viola, other routes to take the pressure off? the bedlam that has become Decarie.

    Poor Cote St Luc!

    Then to top it off, push Cavendish North to Cote De Liesse and the whole world will deek South via Cavendish to access Cote St Luc Rd. and thru to Sherbrooke and Upper Lachine.

    If they wish to go West, they will use CSL Rd., Fielding, Chester etc.

    Lovely to have access, but, not just the residents benefit.

    Pinedale and Fleet was a pleasant backwater before being opened up.

    Lord help the residents of the West End if they ever get it together enough to push Cote St Luc West thru past the Wentworth Golf Course and the CPR Sortin Yard to 2-20, another Decarie feeder in the offing.

    Its not about giving access to residents, its about Profits and Greed.

    Think about the debts and dismay of the Olympic debacles over the last years.

    Be Careful with the Blue Bonnets land, and the decisions will affect the future.

    There is not much ‘good’ land left.

  7. The land is a ways away from Namur, on the other side of that massive “smart centre” parking area. If they’re not careful, this could end up being a creepy kind of area to walk through, especially at night, with no “eyes on the street” or after-dark vitality, as Jacobs cautioned against.

  8. “The improvement of the grid is important for healing the urban fabric of Montreal torn apart by highway construction. ”

    comme c’est vrai !

    mais qu’en comprennent les administrateurs de la ville ??

  9. I believe that Cote Saint Luc is at a critical moment of its history. The population ageing has reached such a level that the city now has the highest mean age in all of Quebec. The main shopping center, long in decline is now supposed to be partially demolished. Times like this call for bold risks to be taken. CSL needs to open itself up. This proposed link, along with the cavendish extension, would place the cavendish mall in the center of two long corridors instead of a dead end.

    The increased access to decarie and the west island would make cote saint luc a more attractive municipality for younger families.

    All of this of course depends on CP’s plans for the tracks and the city of Montreal’s plan for the land. What I would like to see is a single East-West street with storefronts on the main level and residential units on top. One lane would be reserved for the 92 bus. There would be many north-south residential streets intersecting the main street. This piece of land as mentioned in other comments has the potential to be isolated, that is why mixed use and density are essential to keep it vibrant.

  10. Ce ne sont pas les autoroutes qui font problème là, mais le chemin-de-fer du CP. La portion sud du terrain est délimitée par leur ligne vers le port, et la portion est est délimité par leur cour de triage.

    Traverser la ligne n’est pas trop compliqué, mais le triage, lui, c’est une douzaine de voies à traverser, donc un plus long viaduc/tunnel.

    Et n’oublions pas non-plus les populations ultra-snob de Hampstead et Côte-st-Luc qui verront d’un oeil torve l’arrivée des barbares venant des quartiers plus pauvres, car, c’est bien connu, les pauvres sont les ennemis des riches et risquent de les dévaliser!!! On se souviendra de la police de Mont-Royal qui en expulsait quiconque y entrait avec une vieille voiture…

    D’ailleurs, Côte-st-Luc a bloqué durant des décennies le raccordement des deux portions du boulevard Cavendish.

  11. All I was saying is that at this very moment Blue Bonnets represents a large green space right beside one of the city’s densest industrial area.

    This green space acts as an environmental buffer between residential and industrial zones. I am more concerned with clean air and noise reduction than I am with creating more pedestrian parks, which is why I proposed green roofs rather than pedestrian green space (parks).

    Though it should be noted that Namur metro is quite far from any public green space.. unless you’re up for a stroll through the Jewish cemetery.

    In any case, all you need to do is open up Google maps and take a look at the area using the Satellite view and you will see, plainly, a drastic change in the urban fabric between Hamstead and the St-Laurent industrial park.

    I imagine the buildings of the St-Laurent industrial park covered in green roofs, the pollution that would be diminished, the aesthetic appeal, and the economic stimulation the policy would create for the local economy, and it seems like a great idea to me.

    Are there ANY negative effects or arguments against a green roof policy? Really?

    Whole countries have adopted green roof policies, I see no reason why a city the size of Montreal could not do so also.

  12. As for the land itself, I don’t really care what they build on it so long as they at least entertain the notion of green roofs.

    Obviously the streets need to be connected and grid fluidity enhanced, no argument here.

  13. Apparently Mr. Naimard obviously has his own misconceptions and insecurities to deal with, though he would be better served airing them in the office of a psychiatrist than on this website.

    I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Dunkelman’s approach, though it remains to seen whether the bureaucracies running CSL and CP will be able to find the middle ground necessary to open up that tract of land. Let’s remember how long it took CSL and Hampstead to install synchronized traffic lights…

  14. the immense glass-curtain wall front of the blue bonnets clubhouse in the photo was built in the airplane factory of what is now Bombardier Aerospace, back when it was Canadair and it was between government military plane contracts. There are other montreal buildings with “Canarch”-built curtain wall facades.

  15. As others have already pointed out, the rail lines represent a significant barrier to connecting this area with the surrounding neighbourhoods. As for proximity to Namur metro – have any of you actually tried walking from Namur to Blue Bonnets? I have! Trust me, it is not an experience which I care to repeat. Decarie and the areas in proximity to it are not in danger of becoming pedestrian friendly any time soon.

    As for the aging Cote St Luc population – Cavendish Mall and perhaps other decling commercial centres should be retrofitted to become ‘golden age’ sites with on-site residential units. Adding apartment units and/or hotels to some of the larger commercial ‘strip’ areas in Montreal (plopping down some towers in the middle of Marche Central for example) may not be such a bad idea.

  16. A few photos of the old place:

    http://uem.minimanga.com/occupied/hippodrome/

    It would be nice to see the area around Namur metro (and the areas along Decarie, in general) beautified somehow. It’s a pretty big mess to clean up, though.

    I’d also like to repeat the sentiments of the above poster regarding the pedestrian friendliness of the area… I used to work on Paré, and as long as I worked there I wondered if that particular morning would be the one some impatient motorist ended my life. It’s a scary crossing!

  17. Hopefully they do a better job than they did with Andrews Airforce base.
    Still feels like a no man’s land.

  18. re Jean Naird’s comment
    I do not believe it would be fair to characterize Cote St Luc in that fashion. Cote St. Luc, despite the impression given by the previous comments is a diverse city of over 30 000 inhabitants. It is diverse in both the languages its citizens speak, the countries of origin, and the economic conditions prevalent. It is not a municipality made up exclusively of mansions. There are certain big houses, however there are also condos, apts, duplexes, semi-detached houses etc…
    The old administration was against the linking up of Cavendish. However, I do not believe this was out of a fear of poorer individuals lowering property values. Nobody wants traffic running through there community, it creates pollution, noise and makes it harder to circulate in your own streets.
    The current policy of the city however is to favor such a link.

  19. I think it would be a very lovely idea to link up the Blue Bonnets site with Cote Saint-Luc, for sure. One thing to consider that hasn’t been mentioned yet is that the Montreal General Plan calls for residential development in the area immediately east of the municipality of Cote Saint-Luc. This area is located between Cote Saint-Luc and Blue Bonnets. This should provide even more of a reason to connect Cote Saint-Luc with Jean-Talon, through Kildare or Mackle (or even both). I wrote a letter to the editor in The Monitor not long ago regarding this same topic. Any connection between Cote Saint-Luc and the outside world would be very much appreciated.

  20. I hate to be the csl resident explaining why they don’t want to do any of these things. But I am pretty sure csl residents want to be cut off from the main streets of Montreal. Cavendish could become another decarie blvd. CSL residents want their kids safe, cars driving slowly and to be a dead end. All these old ideas make sense to facilitate traffic for non CSL residents driving through! Of course I am personally willing to hear all new planning ideas.

  21. I think that area andth town of Cote St Luc
    will flourish with the extension of Cavendish.

  22. I think they should bring back horse racing there. It was once and still could be a great agribusiness in quebec. IF the government would get off the owner’s back I bet they would have never had top shut down and we woould have a nice, non-polluting business in the city. shame on developers and thier minions here.

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