Trouble On Verdun Waterfront

Article in today’s Gazette discusses the Cresendo Restaurant on the Verdun Waterfront. Seems the city would like to sue for unpaid back taxes, but the restaurant claims it had a no taxes agreement with the city. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me!

There used to be two boating clubs on the Verdun Waterfront, the Verdun Motor Boat Club and the Verdun Yacht Club (where the above mentioned restaurant resides).
Those boat clubs were there forever. But in the 80’s the autonomy of those clubs became threatened when residents of Nun’s Island began complaining about the boat clubs being “eyesores”. They were, of course, new residents complaining of things that had been there over 70 years in one form or another at that point in time.

In the 1930’s Mayor Wilson of Verdun vowed that there would never be commercial or residential development of the Verdun Waterfront. It was intended to be an area of recreation for the citizens of Verdun. And it remained that way for decades. The only projects built were the Auditorium, the Natitorium, and the Stadium, all post war work projects that were heavily used and enjoyed by the people of Verdun.

In the 60’s parts of the riverfront were landfilled and a series of Senior’s Residences were built. Not ideal, no, but Verdun was it’s own city in those days and almost every one could agree that such residences were necessary. Everyone adapted. It worked.

Georges Bosse was mayor of Verdun in the 90’s when things got bad for Verdun. The economy was bad, there was many empty stores on Wellington, and the city was home to the Rock Machine who were involved in a deadly drug war with the Hell’s Angels. Not the best of times.

So Mr Bosse decided that it was time to politically move in on the boat clubs, those “eyesores” on the waterfront that had been there forever. In the 80’s the VMBC had even experienced sabotage in the form of cabins being arsoned – there was fear and concern amongst it’s members, who could it be?

Eventually the VMBC was turfed out and a series of condo buildings was built on the site of the old Verdun Stadium (one side of the stands was sold to Concordia for a dollar and a portion of it can still be seen at the Loyola campus). They were not built on the VMBC site, but surely everyone involved with the condos was aware of the complaints coming from Nun’s Island and the logic had to be that if they complain over there then maybe this is not doable, and, of course, with the boat club gone, the condos could attract much bigger dollars.

The VYC was eventually turfed out to make room for the restaurant, the one with the no tax deal. You would have to be naive to not think that this was all part of a plan to turn the Verdun Waterfront into Montreal’s version of Miami Beach. So far there has been no new development, except for the completely absurd idea of building a bridge fron Nun’s Island to the Verdun mainland.

The condos on the waterfront and the restaurant are the legacy of Georges Bosse, a man who retired from politics and enthusiastically promoted the recently universally rejected Griffintown project as being something that could stimulate business on Wellington street in Verdun. Very interesting ideas from a man who was simultaneously a Wellington Street merchant and Mayor of the City who could only look elsewhere when the bikers were killing the street.

And on it goes…

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21 responses to “Trouble On Verdun Waterfront

  1. I walked by this marina yesterday. Small motor boats for fishing. Hardly a marina. But the area does have a great potential for investment in my opinion which could revive Wellington which is losing more and more stores.

  2. Native of Verdun, lived there for over 24 years and let me tell you although I spent a lot of my youth in these boat club, THEY WERE an eyesore but people then didn’t really care and untill Bossé came in with good ideas to revive the waterfront, people didn’t know what was good for them.

    Bossé was one of the best mayor that Verdun ever had, under his jurisdiction, Verdun lost some most of it’s bad reputation of slums and became a attractive place to raise a family, I was raise there and trust me, time have change for the best. Before him you had Mayor Caron, that pushed away big projects from the city like the Angrignon Shopping Mall that could have revive the main street like Wellington.

    My dear parents still lives there and they have lived there almost forever, back then they could have gone to better neighbourhood, but my father knew, liked the city and knew that it was a good place after all.

    It is a question of opinion after all, I have family in these condos where the stadium where and I also have family in the Manoir, name of the old folks home mentioned in the article, I also was a fan of the Griff projects so guess we’ll have to agree to disagree on this subject, but don’t touch Verdun, I get very defensives of it.

  3. Brub, I am a second generation Verduner, both my parents were born here, on the same street! I don’t believe for a nanosecond Bosse was a good mayor. I wish it would occur to folks like you sometimes that maybe the place is just fine the way it is? Why is there this insatiable obsessive need to develop everything?

    A little story…In the 80’s there was a photography student at Concordia who discovered the Verdun boat clubs and made a portfolio of them. He considered the VMBC site akin to a “New Brunswick fishing village” and then rhapsodized about the astonishing fact that downtown Montreal was just thataway. Kind of cliched if you have lived here long, and certainly an ironic echo of the old Nun’s Island slogan, “A piece of the country 5 minutes from downtown”.

    Bosse basically was killing culture in Verdun, culture and tradition. It doesn’t matter,or at least it shouldn’t, what other people think of you, groups should be allowed autonomy, especially when two or three generations of people are involved. There are ways to work these things out.

    But as long as there are people who see a nice buck to be made, and waterfronts do command big bucks, ordinary people are always going to get sold out by the very people who are hired to protect their interests.

  4. Neath, I do like your culture and tradition comment, and I agree with you that it’s important. But I would like to have a survey made and see how many people are actually proud of saying. I live in Verdun! or how many people would like to see some of the old rundown building replace by something new or at least renovated.

    I left Verdun for that reason, I was missing density, I was missing towers, new development will bring young Verduner like me back.

  5. You guys might be surprised at the result of such a poll – you are assuming that people who will spend most of their lives in a place are just going to up and agree that, yes, I live in a shithole.You are also assuming that that the people who live in these shitholes will happily move to an even worse shithole to make room for all the new money that will want to live in said improved shithole. Developing the Verdun waterfront is bullshit. Did the Plateau become Montreal’s trendiest neighborhood because it was developed or is the essence of it’s appeal that people did not tear buildings down but rather worked with what was already there? Verdun has everything in place to becoming a great community and having an open waterfront will guarantee that in the decades to come.

  6. Actually, I should say that Verdun has been a great community for a long time – there is a very solid foundation here.

  7. I was with the VYC all my life (since the late 60’s) and those 2 marinas promoted water activities through ragatta, and fishing derbys open to all. Now the Cresendo Resto comes along that was built with City $$$ and all equip. inside right down to the dishes were also paid for by the City. And all the profits goto private share holders. Verdun people are paying for this resto everyday. They are even connected to the City’s electrical system via the lamp post, so they do not have to pay hydro. This cost Verdun tax payers close to 2 millon dollars to set-up, and the City had it only evaluated at 1/8 of its value (City says they made a mistake with the valuation and they will correct it in 2011). And do not forget the Marina gives the City $40,000 for 6 months, but no real parking, just 8 spots reserved for 100 members, the rest is all reserved for the Cresendo Resto. Security is provided by Verdun along with the 3 cameras on the lamp posts, lamp posts in the parking, snow removal is done before any street in Verdun is done, grass cut, not to mention the City sweeper who goes by the Cresendo 2x a day, and the City workers who BROOM the parking lot (have pictures of this one) ect ect.
    Did Verdun really need another Resto ?
    The VYC was to handle this project back in the late 1990’s but at the last minute at City Hall with the rep. from the Bank who only need the City to back up the bank loan of aprox. $120,000 for a fully equip. resto and VYC marina. But at the last minute Bosse walked into the room, and said no to all plans.
    And went ahead with his 2 millon dollar resto, with a no tax deal, and free hydro, snow removal, parking, public security, and even moved the childrens park over 500 feet to in front of the Cresendos ice cream window. So now the kids play on the water front bank right next to a marina with no traffic light to cross LaSalle blvd. As opposed to being in a fenced area with a traffic light right on the corner.
    The city has bent over backwards for this Resto, as the people of Verdun only see the tip of the iceberg, alot more goes on, but I do not have time to type out a 5 page article.
    But the best one of them all, the Marina, by law all marinas are to have a garbage bin, but Verdun makes LaSalle pay for the bin cause the boaters at the marina go into the LaSalle area, so Verdun will not provide a garbage bin, but Verdun will pick up the Cresendos.
    Every year I hear about verdun tax payers picking up cresendo bill, which in the real World is usally paid by the business that rents the space.
    Where did Verdun get all this extra cash to build this resto ? They took it from a Federal Grant Fund $$$ that was to improve the waterfront, that is why they let the VYC stay for a few years on the books, to cover their tracks, as no Federal Gov’t would give money to build a privatly held Resto bar, especially in a place that is zoned a park, and not commerical.
    But it is nice that Verdun built a Resto Bar out of the goodness of their hearts

  8. Thank you for that update, VYC member! I was never a member of either of the boat clubs but anyone paying any bit of attention could see that some major bullshit went down. I just get a little sad and half crazy when I hear someone suggest that Bosse was a good mayor, hell, Verdun joined Montreal under Bosse without any protest, but some people don’t get it, what a sellout it all was, how a once proud and strong city became just a “borough” for Montreal to play with….

    Email me more or post here any time!
    neathatturcot (at) yahoo.ca

  9. On another note on the waterfront. If you go down to where the VMBC use to be at the bottom of Gault, you will see this big cement playform on the waterbank front. This was to house one of the floating platforms where the people can walk on and fish. But guess what, it was moved upstream and put in a weed bed at the bottom of Stephens street and the other one put also in a weed bed and right in the middle of the waterway path. The reason it got pushed from the original location, which was a great location cause their are no weeds their, that way if someone fell in they would not get tangled up in the weeds and possable drown, but Bosse lives in a double penthouse condo right their and it would create too much noise for the residents having people walking their all the time.
    It should be the condos that should have never been built their, as it was a garbage dump before and the City had a by-law that no build were to go onto a garbage dump for at least 100 years. That is why the garage caved in their about 10 years ago, and the condos towers do have a slight lean to them, but they are still “safe” even with the slight tilt and even though the garges must be ventalated due too all the gases coming up.
    Now why would Bosse let them build these huge condos on a old garbage dump, evict the VMBC, and on top of it why would he take a “double penthouse” right on the waterfront ???
    Also, the floating platform is no longer at the bottom of Manning street cause it was too close to the waterway path, so why don’t they put it back down at Gault street?

  10. If you look at the Gazette article dated April 7 2008 with the captioned “City demands taxes from restaurant it owns”
    or just google “Verdun Cresendo” and you will see how the City made an evauation mistake on the Cresendo, whish they would do that on my property. And the “sweetheart deal ” they gave the Cresendo.
    Also talks about Mayor Tremblay and the events he has held their.
    I would say conflict of interest ?

  11. hi vyc member..i love reading ur comments about the both clubs..well my father was a member at the v.m.b.c. 4 quite some time and so was my uncle..well my uncle left v.m.b.c and went 2 the v.y.c. and wow i have so many memories from the both of them but more of the v.y.c…i can say i have so many memories but the ones i’ll never forget was the regatta..but i have 2 say going in the boat and taking the 10 minute trip up 2 the island was and still is priceless

    ps: dont u miss the old warfsat the club..

  12. I recall with fondness running along the wharves as a boy.
    Their removal has taken away what made the waterfront interesting.
    The float at Manning was to replace the old La Torque wharf where the Rapid Prince and other river boats would tie up.
    The river boats ran from Lachine across to Caughnawagna (as it was called back then) Longeuil and Verdun then Montreal. Return trip by Lachine canal. Building the bridges mad them obsolete.
    After the river boats the wharf became a popular place to fish sun or wash your car so when it was covered over by expansion they replaced it with a float.
    Ed Brown Verdun
    edbrown@videotron.ca

  13. What I have heard since is that the land where the condos were built was sold (by the city under the Bosse regime) to a developer under somewhat mysterious circumstances and that there was some kind of difficulty or awkwardness with how close the property would be in relation to the fire station and/or other properties on Lasalle boulevard.

    I heard that the VYC was told by the city that they had to meet certain standards in order to remain. What standards you might ask? Well, how about declaring that the average salary of people cycling along the Verdun waterfront is $60,000 a year and that the boat club would have to reflect the “values” of those people? I kid you not. So basically what happened is that the city just kept upping the “standards” until the VYC was unable to keep up.

  14. It was the YVC that submitted building plans to build a club house, and small restaurant that catered to everybody by selling hamburgers and other non-expensive food, as most people who live in the area can not afford $100 dinner plates.
    This new YVC was to promote waterfront activities for all Verduners. All the City had to do was co-sign for the $100,000 loan from the bank. Everything was a go, and Bosse came into the room at the last minute at the signing of the official approval meeting and said “No” to all the plans. And that was it, he left the meeting. The City gave demands to the VYC of what they wanted, and the VYC meet them all.
    So what happened ? Nobody knows.
    In retrospect, going from $100,000 “loan” and promoting water activities, to the City spending OVER 1 million of the tax payers money, and not collecting any taxes from their enterprise, and catering only to the rich, which Verdun is not plentiful of, I would of took the VYC plan, and you do not need be a High School graduate to see which was the right choice.
    Also, notice how the children play park at Lasalle and Desmarchais was moved right in front of the Cresendo`s Ice Cream outlet. So now the kids can play right on the waterfront hill, lets hope nobody rolls into the water because of the Political greed.
    Why didn`t they just take the cash right from the City coffers and put it in their pocket, than make this big “white elephant ”
    The only paying people their now are the warf members, but only because they goto the Island, without them their would be no marina.

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  16. I also was a member of the VMBC & later the VYC All I can say is what a mess Verdun has made of the waterfront with land fill.Not to mention how the tip of Nuns island was filled in over what used to be Green island which was a natural habitat for many types of waterfowl with its tall standing weeds and many small islands.I would have to think that the environmental people would not alow this today.It makes me laugh when people on Nuns island called the boat clubs on the Verdun side an eyesore ,you just have to stand on the Verdun shore and look out to the island to see the real eyesore.

  17. Looks like this subject has been mothballed over time…Maybe it’s time with all the corruption being exposed by Mayors of other towns that somebody broach this subject again with the right commission, The one that’s following the construction industry scandal of the last decades..This just might be Bosse’s undoing as well as a few others ..I have just seen these posts now as I have been away from Verdun for some 40 yrs but have always came back to what I knew best .. Home Verdun..or one of ..What happened to Verdun waterfront clubs is almost identical to what happened to Victoria Town aka The Village..It could have been worse I guess had Bosse continued on. Verdun would have been a memory only to those who had a life there..Oh and I’d welcome a survey asking Verduner’s of old if they’d have preferred to upgrade to the point of being unable to afford rents in a place they were Proud to call Home..I would lay dollars to donuts the resulting vote of NO would be overwhelming…However we would have all loved to have Verdun renovated on the inside but retain it’s true form… Let me ask the same question another way ..Do you think anyone from old Montreal would want to have Old Montreal redone any other way then what it is now?. I didn’t think so .. Well Verduner’s all feel the same Fix up Verdun the same way you did Old Montreal and retains it’s History and Architecture and not only will everything be fine … It will also become just like Old Montreal with it’s beauty and the waterfront attraction…

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