Bonaventure/Griffintown Continues…

In this morning’s Metro, Societe du Havre de Montreal president, Isabelle Hudron, comments that the Bonaventure project is not negotiable. Excellent timing considering that the Office de Consulatation Publique de Montreal is hearing briefs on the project again next week. Isn’t democracy wonderful?

The SHM needs to justify it’s existence, that’s understandable, but where is it written in their mandate that they are some Supreme Council that not only truly understands Montreal, but knows what is best for Montrealers, and at any cost?

Recently another questionable transportation project was announced for Windsor Station. The Dalhousie Corridor suggested by the SHM is about a 3 minute walk from the Windsor Station site. How is it possible that two major transit projects can take place besides each other without each project carefully considering the other? It’s because there is no global plan in Montreal! Are we going to build bad projects and throw the city into another 30 year debt cycle because we have given unlimited powers to people who just can’t see the big picture?

I attended the OCPM hearings on Wednesday night and while a lot of good ideas were put forth such as an alternative plan by Projet Montreal and an excellent presentation by David Hanna suggesting that the New City Gas buildings must be preserved, I was quite moved by a brief presented by Judith Bauer of Griffintown.
Although it is what developers and city planners (or the lack thereof) seem consistently to do, I don’t believe it’s possible to reconfigure our city in a sustainable and economically viable way by giving the green light to megaprojects that are developed in isolation.
Why are these proposals presented without the context of neighbouring projects that have been approved or proposed?
Why is there no coherent plan between them all?
Why are we, the citizens who live and work here, not consulted about our needs and wishes for our community and our city prior to the long and costly development of such megaproposals?
We are here every day. We see the advantages and disadvantages of the area, we experience firsthand what works and what doesn’t, we have an insider’s view of how the various neighbourhoods integrate and could be further integrated to improve quality of life and economic health for all concerned.
Why not ask us first?!
Of course the developers and the municipality have their experts and may believe they know better but if I hire an expert to assist with remodeling my home, I first would expect them to ask me what I want, what is important to me, and second to offer proposals and solutions.
Why was the community not asked about what they want for this area prior to being presented with a project that has on several occasions been described by M. Rainville as “cannée”?
Why was Isabelle Hudon, president of the Conseil d’administration de la SHM, quoted in a September 17th press release saying:
Toute étude additionnelle qui pourrait être requise à ce stade concernant le corridor Dalhousie ne servirait qu’à obtenir un niveau de raffinement des études antérieures sans remettre en question la pertinence de ce corridor.1

If the project the SHM has presented to us is already ‘in the can’ and new input only to be used for ‘refining’ what has already been decided, what is the true value of these public consultations to the citizens and organizations participating?


There are people who will suggest that activists such as myself are just against everything and that we are halting progress. They are usually the people who have vested interests in these projects or citizens who have no idea how unfairly these projects are conceived and therefore see no problems. But I can guarantee you that you would simply not tolerate this totalitarian approach were it planned for your neighborhood. It’s time we all started caring a little more.

PS I attended a meeting at the New City Gas buildings last night and I simply have to say that these are probably the most amazing 19th century buildings left in the city that are still in a well preserved state. You have to see the inside to believe it. The complex is a “jewel in the crown” of Montreal architecture and could be a wonderful starting point for a truly inspiring rehabilitation of Griffintown.
If only….

4 responses to “Bonaventure/Griffintown Continues…

  1. The soulless suburban boxes they keep trying to plonk down on Montréal’s historical urban fabric are pretty depressing. Since they’ve probably all got Richard Florida’s books memorized, you’d think they’d know a bit better…

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