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Devimco presentation on Griffintown: Residents not welcome?

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A couple weeks ago, I and a fellow resident of Griffintown were invited to attend a presentation on the planned redevelopment of the area by developer Devimco. The presentation was hosted by L’Action Gardien, an umbrella organisation for the various community groups in Pointe St-Charles.

The presentation was well attended by representatives from the different community groups (although, the presentation was only part of a larger meeting). Two people gave the presentation; Luc Ouimet from “Le Centre de Consultation et de Concertation” and George Bossé who, as I understand, has a fairly colourful and somewhat controversial history (Le Devoir ran a story on him last year outlining some problems he had with conflict of interest issues due to his past job as mayor of Verdun). Mr. Bossé gave most of the presentation and Mr. Ouimet fielded the majority of the questions.

As soon as my neighbour and I had taken off our jackets, Mr. Ouimet approached us and began asking questions. He asked where we lived and why we were interested in the presentation. We have suspected that Devimco has been quite ignorant towards the entire area and our suspicions were somewhat validated when said that he thought there were only people living on de la Montagne and showed surprise that we live in other parts of the area.

The presentation itself was much as I expected. Facts and figures were given that didn’t differ much from what the media has been reporting since the plan was first unveiled. Land use maps were shown outlining the composition of the different areas along with details of studies that were done on how the project will affect commercial activity on Ste-Catherine. Historic buildings that will be preserved or moved were shown and mock-ups of what the project might look like when it is finished were presented at the end. I found it interesting and a bit disconcerting that transit was not touched upon as part of the official presentation and the tramway was not mentioned until a member of the audience brought it up in a question. A PDF of the entire PowerPoint presentation can be downloaded here (I was given a booklet but I don’t know where one would be able to acquire one).

Some points of interest from the presentation after the jump.

Here are a few points of interest from the presentation (some of which can be found in the .PDF file linked above):

  • – There will be 3 860 housing units in total.
  • – 600 000 square feet of the development will be greenspace/parks.
  • – The makeup of the rest will be 65% residential and 18% commercial (4% of the total is large commercial, 6% medium, and 8% small).
  • – Only 12 existing buildings will be preserved, 2 of which will be moved, and there will be demolition and partial reconstruction of 4.
  • – The project will be pretty green. They plan on getting LEED certification and will be working with ÉTS to develop some fairly creative schemes to make it environmentally friendly.
  • – There will be a total of 12 parks/public spaces (outlined in the booklet/.PDF file). One thing I’m curious about and should have asked about is who will own these “public spaces”.
  • – The western section (everything west of de la Montagne) will be exclusively residential. The buildings along the canal can only be a maximum height of 25 metres (around 6-8 stories). The audience seemed quite concerned that none of the low-income housing would be in this area and would be concentrated in the high-rises to the east. He assured us that this will not be the case (people didn’t seem very convinced).
  • – South of Wellington will not be residential at all. It will be composed of hotels, cinemas, theatres, conference rooms, etc. There will be a total of 300 hotel rooms and he assured the audience that the cinema would be francophone (I’m not sure how they can assure that at this point).
  • – North of Wellington and east of de la Montagne will be mixed use commercial and residential. The current zoning regulations say buildings (except those along the canal) can have a maximum height of 60 metres, which is approximately 18 stories (about the same as the nearby Terraces Windsor).
  • – A guarantee was given that there definitely will not be a Wal-Mart. They said that their research has found that Wal-Mart is not welcome in the Sud-Ouest so they won’t bring one. This seemed to be a pretty sincere promise.
  • – A question was asked about who would pay for the infrastructure. He said the city and Devimco would split the cost of aboveground infrastructure and the city would pay for all of the underground.

At the end of the presentation, we found out that they were not happy that residents of Griffintown were present, that “it wasn’t part of the deal”. To me, this represents the greatest problem of the whole project: it’s completely closed to the public and they are not interested in input from those who may be affected by it. The tone of the presentation was not one of public consultation but of a done deal that was being vaguely presented to us as a favour.



  1. The details of the project sound pretty good to me, but the attitude of the developers (secrecy mixed with a sense of entitlement) is pretty alarming.

    I think this could turn out to be a very strong project if more effort was made in engaging the public and in revealing specific details. For the moment I get the feeling that the average person knows very little about what is actually going to happen to Griffintown.

  2. I just cringe at the architecture. Not to mention the very suburban look of the layout. The heights of some of the buildings are fine as this city needs some higher density, especially in and around the core. But do we need more orange brick and character-lacking apartment buildings – housing projects- that look like they were designed on a napkin by Soviet bureaucrats in 1957??

  3. Moreover, I don’t want to be pessimistic, but I doubt that Devimco will be able to pull this whole thing off. They are likely to build a phase or two and then bolt. This is tradition in Montreal afterall. I would hate to see another Overdale. Certainly the city should be guarding against any complete demo or stree grid amendments unless they are actully going to build in the place.

  4. This reads too much like a gigantic, bloated version of the same condo development issues that chased me away from my Queen Street West neighborhood in Toronto.

  5. From what I’ve heard, the residential tower development will be left up to other developers, Devimco is really just staked around the commercial buildings. That said there is still demand for apts and condos, so I’m sure someone will step in.

    Interesting that someone else posted recently about the links between Devimco and Bombardier — how increasingly, it looks like there is planned synergy between this project and many of the proposed metro line extensions and surface rail lines, tramways etc. Not that any of that is bad, necessarily, but the way it’s all falling together as a fait accompli with no transparency or oversight is a bit worrying.

    And Edward, I agree on the architecture. It’s that very cheap quickie box building that looks like it was made with those Girder and Panel toy construction kits we had as kids. It’s a box, cleverly disguised with differently-coloured brick to pretend it has more detail than it really does.

    Compare this with some of the really excellent new condo buildings downtown around De Maisonneuve and de la Montagne — granted they’re aiming at a higher price bracket, but is it that hard to incorporate some architectural detailing?

    I think the “soviet project” aspect comes from the fact that there’s either no style, or one-style-fits-all. I’d prefer to see a competition to design individual buildings in differing styles that fit in with the architectural heritage of the area and the city, with a better master plan like the Quartier International.

  6. Another reason behind the “Soviet project” plan (lots of such deserts built in postwar Western Europe as well)is the disregard for the existing street grid. The “blocks plunked down in a pseudo-park that is anything but a real park” form of town planning simply doesn’t build an effective urban neighbourhood.

  7. I’m sick of this outrageous large-scale neighbourhood destruction-reconstruction business that has mutilated Montreal for over fifty years now. You would think that the city might learn from its mistakes.

    So what do I propose, then?

    It’s simple: bury the Bonaventure. Bury the Ville-Marie. With the higways underground, and more cross-neighbourhood flow of people, we would see the epigenetic, authentic, and natural development of what used to be Montreal’s industrial heart. Griffintown, as well as Little Burgundy, Saint-Henri, Verdun, and Ile-des-soeurs would all benefit handsomely. It might be costly to put expressways underground, but certainly not as costly as razing an entire neighbourhood.

  8. Please my friends, wake up; Montreal is dirty a city (no one’s is cleaning his surrounding) is ugly (too many investors from outside Montreal keep crappy building in poor condition) , I am a shame to bring foreigner in this city.
    What do you expect…? Jacques Cartier will come back and put it back like it was when he discovered it!
    I am not surprised that many people are reluctant to accept a project proposed by a French catholic roman company, you all believe that they will drop the puck after phase one or two like some other investors from a different religion.
    There are only few types of opponents in these kind of project, the billionaire who are frustrated that they haven’t been the first to think about it (My salutation Madame Lambert), the Bien-être social people that think that if the government put its money in brick and mortar that they might try to save money on their back and start to chase the artists that are working full time while they still get their Chèque every month, and the follower’s who follow the gau-gauche because it’s cool…
    I am glad to be a Montrealer, in 200 years my crappy split-level will be saved of destruction by your descendant.

    There are only few types of opponents in these kind of project, the billionaire who are frustrated that haven’t been the first to think about it (My salutation Madame Lambert), the Bien-être social people that think that if the governement put its money in brick and mortar that they might try to save money on their back and start to chase the artists that are working full time while they still get their Chèque every month, and the follower’s who follow the gau-gauche because it’s cool…
    I am glad to be a Montrealer, in 200 years my crappy spli-level will be saved of destruction by your descendant.

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