Conflict Of Interest in Griffintown Project?

Henry Aubin wrote a very interesting column in Thursday’s Gazette. In it he discusses the “proposed” Griffintown Project and the extent of the involvement of a development firm called Devimco. It appears that Devimco would like to not just redevelop Griffintown, but also create public transportation corridors and concepts that would conveniently link with their mega shopping center, DIX30, in Brossard, as well as make Griffintown a major train stop on the way into the city (say what!?!?). And he also shows us the ties between Devimco and Bombardier, who would stand to profit by manufacturing the trains for those new corridors. This is a project which has extended outward from itself so much that it may be safe to suggest that the project as planned would change forever our concept of downtown. Not even the Olympic games impacted the downtown core as decisively as this one could. And City Hall seems to be enjoying the ride.

In most places that would be considered unacceptable.

When the project was first announced Mayor Tremblay suggested that people have an open mind about the project. Did he mean that he understood how controversial it could be? Or did he mean that the city was planning to just ram this through as usual with some obligatory “public consultations” to be held after all principles have basically agreed to go ahead?

Here in good ‘ol Montreal we continue to see billion dollar projects such as in Griffintown or the building of a new Turcot Interchange presented as a done deal by the time public announcements are made. Perhaps the only thing worse is how little the population seems to care. This used to be a world class city, but it has a lot of work to do to catch up with the rest of the world. In planning and democracy we are over 30 years behind.

PS. I tried Googling Devimco and had a hard time finding a proper web site. But going to Devimco dot com will take you here. In a superb bit of irony it would appear that the website is “under construction”. Nah, I must have found the wrong place.

What’s That Large Sucking Sound? by Henry Aubin

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3 responses to “Conflict Of Interest in Griffintown Project?

  1. Aubin writes that the public interest in all of these projects is not evident. I think it’s pretty obvious: we get more public transit and more people living downtown, which means fewer cars and less sprawl.

    To be honest, these kinds of business connections (whether they’re conflicts of interest is arguable) don’t surprise me. Cities have been built this way since the dawn of the industrial era. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, transit companies would built their own subdivisions in order to create new customers on their streetcar and subway lines. That’s how most of New York was built.

    Is that really any different than what we’re seeing here? It almost seems as if people are gearing up to fight new investments in public transit simply because they will stimulate development and benefit a bunch of private investors. Why? Don’t we want a transit-oriented city? The only way to achieve that is to build new housing and business along transit lines.

  2. These insinuations are completely ridiculous. Quebec is a small society. It is inevitable that you will find some connections between various major actors. This is not a “conflict of interest”.

    This project needs to go forward as it is essential to revitalise the city. Face it, seriously, this neighbourhood as it stands is a dump. Let’s not threaten it with useless insinuations.

  3. I don’t see how a primarily commercial project can mean fewer cars even if you have a Metro, trains, buses and a helicopter pad right there. And with the Turcot rebuilding and probably Bonaventure, and other things all happening at the same time at some point, this project would be built in a traffic nightmare. The Southwest looks to be chocked right up for a few years anyway. Maybe that in itself will get people to leave their cars at home:P.

    I am of Irish descent. Griffintown means something to me. Call it culture or history or even eccentric sentimentality, but something resonates with me in that area. Building a huge commerical project there that links to a mega shopping centre on the south shore is gross at best, and arrogant to say the least, though I am very attracted to the railway possibilities.

    Southwest Montreal is a pretty special place that just oozes with the everyday history of the city. It really is a shame to see so much of it converted to bland short term profit properties that gradually lose their unique sense of neighborhood and “place”.

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