Skip to content

Canadian Urbanism Uncovered


  1. Hasn’t changed since fifties when I drove there on my bicycle.

  2. Ecoute-moi bien, la grange à Vincent Warren Buffet est bien patrimonial, c’est un lieu rassambleur for bored teens and hoodlums, lets make it a centre de petite enfance. C’mon!

  3. Si c’est pour remplacer ça par le genre de bloc stalinien sans élégance qu’on voit dans votre lien, je ne suis pas si sûr que ça vaut la peine…

  4. Dairy Queens like this one aren’t architecture so much as they are modular kiosques that you can assemble with a single allen key (included).

    Let the condos begin!

  5. Un affreux Dairy Queen, c’est du patrimoine à protéger?
    À quand la protection des arches dorées de McDo?

  6. Hey hosties!

    Luc Ferrandez seems like a personable, intelligent fellow. His blog is interesting, and his attempt at transparency seems well-intentioned. But, his posts regarding the whole Sous-Marins Vincent affair raise some troubling issues.

    Mr. Ferrandez bemoans the project’s mediocre architecture, the lack of social housing, the addition of a Starbucks to Laurier: fair enough. However, the project complied, as I understand, with both bulk and use zoning ordinances. Mr. Ferrandez notes that the project could be blocked by the refusal to issue a demolition permit, but notes that there is essentially no basis upon which to do so.

    In his second post, Mr. Ferrandez announces the Comité Consultatif en Urbanisme rejected the project. The owner and promoter can appeal the decision to the Conseil d’Arrondissement, which, notably, includes Mr. Ferrandez himself.

    I cannot be alone in seeing a conflict of interest.

    Mr. Ferrandez stakes out his position quite clearly:

    “Chez Vincent, on s’entend, ce n’est pas un trésor architectural, mais c’est le rappel d’une époque où l’argent était plus rare et où une sortie de famille se résumait souvent à une marche jusqu’au Dairy Queen. La forme de la bâtisse est un rappel de notre enfance et son dégagement par rapport à la rue (tant à l’avant que sur le côté) crée une mini place publique. J’y ai moi-même tenu un party de trottoir pendant la campagne. Le commerce abrite aussi une faune en voie d’extinction: du monde ordinaire qui se commande une soupe poulet et nouilles.”

    The Mayor notes the loss of a “public” place in the form of a parking lot–but it is not a public place, it is decidedly private, with an owner with rightful title to it. Mr. Ferrandez briefly notes the possibility of the arrondisement acquiring the land, but proceeds to dismiss it out of hand, citing astronomical land costs.

    He decries the disappearance of “du monde ordinaire”, but has not introduced any measure or ordinance to better manage gentrification. The project, as introduced, complied with the letter of the law.

    Mr. Ferrandez has the opportunity to appease his constituents by refusing the project, despite have little to no basis to do so. If he does so on the basis of preserving public space–the parking lot–his actions will, in a real sense, constitute a theft from Chez Vincent’s owner. If he refuses the permit on the basis of nothing more than nostalgia, than his actions would be even more intellectually bankrupt. In either case, a rejection of the project would be arbitrary.

    The project sucks, yes. But it conforms with the neighborhood’s zoning laws. Rather than rejecting the project individually, fix the zoning framework. Let the project proceed. Denying the demolition permit on the basis of an arbitrary, ex post facto standard would be wildly inequitable for Vincent’s owner.

    Given his public objection to the project, and the lack of rigorous framework upon which to base his position, I think Mr. Ferrandez should abstain should the matter come to a vote.

  7. PS: There really isn’t a conflict of interest, I was overzealous, but there is still a bit of moral ambiguity in arbitrarily denying permits to a landowner to preserve an open space in lieu of raising the money to purchase same.

  8. LOL, poor Dairy Queen to be turned into a place people can call home? Free Blizzards for all!

  9. I’d rather a Starbucks than a parking lot.

  10. regardless of the rest of it i find the comment of michael disturbing in the following respect:
    he states that refusal of the project constitutes a theft. what is actually stolen here – speculative profit? no one has a right to speculative profit, it is not a property!
    in fact we’ve just recently seen what bad things happen when people start to that this for granted (housing crash on the U.S., spain and so on).
    on top of this, rampant speculation is what drives out a large part of the community that formed it from the plateau, families etc.
    i guess expropriation will guarantee a more fair value, but lessening demand by imposing more restrictive conditions on new buildings (i.e. no cars allowed as has been done in several european cities) could help adjust prices to a sane level and everybody would be happy. except the speculators.

  11. Fair value, I think, is what people are willing to pay for a given good. Arbitrarily changing building standards after the fact–without the zoning framework to support the decision–is, I think, morally and intellectually questionable.

    If the city wanted to deter property speculation, they could have, using focused tax regimens. If the Plateau wants to insure better projects, they could have implemented the zoning ordinances conducive to same prior to the project being introduced. If they want to maintain the open space of the parking lot, or if they want to build a better project themselves, the arrondisement should pay the owner the property’s fair value–it’s market value under the current zoning laws.

    I acknowledge that Mr. Ferrandez’s intentions are good, but you can’t do urbanism by diktat. If the arrondisement wants to do something specific with the property, that it should negociate gré à gré with the property owner. God knows that when the city failed to do so with Café Cleopatra, this blog was less than enthused. You can’t re-engineer the game midstream.

  12. “In his second post, Mr. Ferrandez announces the Comité Consultatif en Urbanisme rejected the project. The owner and promoter can appeal the decision to the Conseil d’Arrondissement, which, notably, includes Mr. Ferrandez himself.

    I cannot be alone in seeing a conflict of interest.”

    An elected person in Canada is under no obligation to leave his/her political opinions at the door. If politicians are to be making decisions (not judges) they do so for political reasons. the more we know a politician’s ideas, the better off we all are.


    You are absolutely correct, there is no conflict of interest, and I was overzealous and incorrect in writing same.

  14. michael: when you say fair (value), you refer as being fair just to speculators, not to the (overwhelming majority of the) general public. why do you think the prior should be privileged?

    while i think it is most important to fix the obvious problem from now on (zoning laws and so on), is it not fair to the public (which elected m. ferrandez with an absolute majority) to let these things still happen.

    if the project was being built they could rely on the by-laws to finish it, but buying a property with the chance (since there is never a explicit guarantee that it be accepted) to develop it, is speculation and as such carries an inherent risk.

    if in certain cases speculative profits can be made entirely without risk (i.e. guaranteed municipal contracts), it is a transfer of wealth from the public (taxes) to private. and this is often enough encouraged by corruption. specifically in above case, since value of property would be raised in its environment, its effects would be a transfer of wealth especially from the group of residents who rent, or own a house they live in that they want to keep (property taxes rise) and the public (if they need to acquire a property, also rising property taxes will not finance the additional costs of social housing) to residents who speculate in property or will sell to move outside the arrondissement (again, speculators).

    i have to add that there are for sure many possible projects (CPE, park, alternative housing project) which would be accepted, they would just not yield as much profit as they developer would get from a vanilla condo building. they will just have to modify the project until it is acceptable to the public (represented by the CCU).

  15. Crap. Getting rid of Dairy Queen? It’s the only real hangout style place for teens in Mile End. They’re bored of us older hipsters so they hang out at DQ. God love em for it.

  16. I wil hire bums to camp out and protest all day and night in order to fight this injustice, where will I get my bizzards after tennis if the DQ is put down?!

  17. the old DQ’s are pretty rare outside mtl. my favourites are at st-michel/industriel and second prize goes to the super-grafittied one at laurendeau and jolicoeur.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *