Montreal Failure To Fight Sprawl Is A Corrupt/Inefficient City Hall

“It’s odd. City hall has the power to determine a condo building’s number of floors, its number of units and even its number of parking spots. But it doesn’t have the power to set its number of bedrooms.”

So building thousands of one bedroom condos is how the Tremblay administration fights sprawl?  This is how the city believes it will keep and attract young people planning families will stay in the city? It is really difficult to believe that there is any intelligent life forms making decisions in this city. Unless, of course, this is all part of a grand design to fill the bank accounts of developers who will, of course, be very grateful indeed. There simply can be no other  explanation as it is highly unlikely that our city is run by people who are mentally incapacitated, is there? In the meantime Montreal’s potential looks more like Buffalo North all the time.

Henry Aubin: Island opportunity goes off the rails

 Attracting families is an important key to the city’s continuing success; so why isn’t this administration using key land for suitable housing?

MONTREAL – The new census this week showed that the off-island suburbs have finally surpassed the Montreal Island in population. What can Montreal city hall do to attract and retain more people?

Most of the people who leave the 514-area for the 450 do so reluctantly. They are often young people with children (or who hope to have children). They enjoy the city’s stimulation and its proximity to workplaces, shopping and entertainment. But they leave because there’s not enough suitable housing in their price range. The taxes are also high and services spotty. Not the greatest place to to raise a family.

Let’s acknowledge straight off that the city can never compete with the off-island on the basis of real-estate costs or taxes.

But the availability of suitable housing is another problem – one on which city hall can act much more strongly than now.

Take, for example, Outremont’s abandoned rail yard. Imagine: vacant land the size of 40 Canadian football fields in the heart of the city and within walking distance of two métro stations. It’s big enough for more than 3,000 housing units, or seven thousand people. Glory be.

Montreal is squandering this anti-sprawl opportunity in two ways.

City hall has approved the Université de Montréal’s idea of unnecessarily building a second campus on a majority of the land. (U de M could have met its growth needs by renovating a handsome religious property contiguous to its present campus, but it sought the modern look that new construction would offer.) There’ll only be room left for 1,300 dwellings.

In short, the Tremblay administration is settling for a far smaller new neighbourhood than it could have got.

The yard’s future redevelopment has increased property values in neighbourhoods directly to the north of this tract. Old industrial buildings and rundown row houses are being turned into condos in two boroughs (Rosemont–Petite Patrie and Villeray–St. Michel–Parc-Extension). It’s here we find the second problem: Montreal is so far failing to make this renaissance attractive to families.

The area could be a real find for many hundreds of families wanting to stay in the city rather than move to Laval. (It’s within walking distance of the Jean Talon Market and handy to the métro.) But precious few of these new condos have more than one bedroom. They’re unsuitable for children.

Variations of these two problems show up again and again across Montreal.

Mayoral candidate Richard Bergeron (who entered politics to stop sprawl) notes, for example, that city hall proposed several years ago 8,000 housing units on 66 football fields’ worth of land near the Turcot Interchange. This land, below the St. Jacques escarpment, belongs to Quebec’s transport ministry. Now, however, a vastly smaller housing project is under consideration – and it would be closer to traffic.

As for Griffintown, yes, it will get thousands of housing units. Yet the city has blown a chance to plan the new mini-city well. It held public consultations last month after much development is a fait accompli. The jewel Montreal could have had will never be.

But back to the acute shortage of family-size units and plethora of micro-units.

City hall can insist on two- or three-bedroom units when it controls a project (as with the Contrecoeur development). But most projects elude its influence.

Nor does it seem keen to push for larger units.

It’s odd. City hall has the power to determine a condo building’s number of floors, its number of units and even its number of parking spots. But it doesn’t have the power to set its number of bedrooms.

And, officials told me Friday, the city is not seeking to get this power from Quebec City. The idea had never occurred to them. Zzzzz.

What does Montreal need most to counter sprawl? I think it needs a non-partisan group composed of savvy, civic-minded citizens (including retired civil servants familiar with policy intricacies and now free to speak out) to defend the island’s interests and offer constructive critiques of housing, fiscal issues and quality-of-life issues – a group with the respectability of, say, the Amis de la Montagne.

Montreal has been too passive on sprawl long enough.

© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

From here.

2 responses to “Montreal Failure To Fight Sprawl Is A Corrupt/Inefficient City Hall

  1. Montreal-is copying Toronto……..( which is also building condos-here-there and everywhere-(and just opened the 69 storey Trump Tower……)….( building condos -in every last old building there -is……..WHY?)
    Property Taxes-RULE…..ALL that money…by building into the sky(which is a lucrative goldmine-of muncipal income-( developers cant make money off-apartments- like they can-from building condos( and condos in Toronto-cost much more money-than in Montreal……)….
    (Yeah people are going -to( for example) the South Shore….(and the still relatively young Champlain Bridge(opened in 1962(when I still lived on Rue Drake in Cote St Paul)is paying the price!
    We( my family) got talked into moving to Candiac( where I lived for 9 years-(my dad got transferred to Toronto(in 1972)….( and I went with him)….
    Candiac-should be called CAR-diac- because unless you have a car- you cant go anywhere-(it has always had-( even after 55 years- very little ( very expensive) public transportation-( the ONLY real transit-is BY car(how ironic- we moved off Rue Drake(only a block and a half from the Jolicoeur Metro station)for a place (Candiac) built(then) in the middle of nowhere( and now-the Champlain and Mercier bridges are falling apart……..from all the traffic-)….
    (in Candiac-they have a train station( but you need a CAR-to get to it(NO public transit to it……( and its MORE expensive- than the GO Trains in Toronto)(thus due to unchecked urban sprawl……..)…
    I live in the city(why?) because Cote St Paul and Verdun were better places to live-( because of public transit( and affordable housing-also)…….
    50 years ago-I lived across from the big park (on Rue Drake( at De Biencourt(right on the corner) I LOVED that place-(I got out of Candiac- when I got old enough( wound up in Lachine( near 24th ave( in behind the old Thruway restuarant(in the aprtments on Duff Court( behind the convent( and the Lachine cemetery)……

    But as a result of urban sprawl- the Jacques Cartier bridge gets re decked(so did the Victoria Bridge) and the Champlain and Mercier Bridges basically will need being replaced….( when they were never meant to accomodate that much traffic( on a daily basis)……

    (the Turcot interchange- has to be rebuilt( and its not even 50 years old(Terry Mosher(Aislin) once did a cartoon(in the 1970s)-of the Turcot Interchange-( but going up over the Cross on Mount Royal)
    (my upstairs neighbor(on Rue Drake) was a CN engineer who worked as a steam locomotive engineer at the Turcot Roundhouse(I got to ride on his locomotive( a Canadian Great Northern(built in 1944) when they retired it in 1960…)

    I got OUT of the suburbs-(in 1972)( at age 16) BECAUSE of urban sprawl-
    I spent my formative years in Cote St Paul( and that shaped -where I ve lived-HOW I ve lived- my entire adult life…….)…(living in the city-I live in the southwest part of Toronto(in an OLD neighborhood( my street has (still regularly used ) streetcar tracks-

    The politicians sit back and count the dollars- generated by urban sprawl- seemingly blind-to the backlash urban sprawl generates( higher needs for electricity,etc………( and we ALSO-experience- places and things built with CHEAP construction materials…….)……

    ( the great thing with Cote St Paul-was that you can walk everywhere-( up to Laurendeau- or to Bannantyne or Wellington-or D’Eglise( or to St Jacques and Glen( and since 1978-the Metro(Jolicoeur-or Monk-)..
    Can’t do that-in Candiac………

    Cote St Paul-is much happier memories for me- than living in the suburbs-ever was-(thank God-it was not plowed under-(nor was the Glen-or Verdun)
    going to the Suburbs-is NOT worth it- it is SOULLESS- it is empty-emotionally-and psychologically-physically and mentally and psychologically ISOLATING-

    suburbs- (if you have NO car- or your car breaks down( or has problems….you are suddenly helpless( you lose your independence of movement and freedom)……

    The developers just sit back and count their dollars-
    ( they brainwash people into believing cities are ALL BAD-( that living in a Verdun-or a Cote St Paul-or a Glen-is BAD-( and that paradise- is across the river-in a SUBDIVISION-)( as long as you have a CAR-)…

    My father got talked into moving to Candiac in 1962- we bought a house we could NOT afford( my parents marriage broke up)I had adjustment problems I never had anywhere else( going to school with total strangers)..
    it was a HUGE mistake-(in Cote St Paul ( we knew all our neighbors(there was a closeness-there ISNT in the surburbs)(I am the ONLY member of my family(besides my late cousin( who grew up on Bannantyne and Demarchais (and on Woodland)in Verdun-who rejected the suburbs)-for City life.

    I live in a place-where people have been neighbors for 50 plus years-very happily-thats what I first remember in life- was that kind of community-

  2. There is NOTHING WRONG-with living in cities-( or in older neighborhoods)..
    Is NEWER(urban sprawl)-neccessarily BETTER?
    Not really!(its soulless- its emotionally empty-its Boring-badly planned-(in a city- you can go pretty much anywhere(without a car-(in the suburbs-YOU CAN’T)
    (they built apartment buildings in the 1960s-( that are falling apart…)
    700k houses-that begin crumbling ( after less than a year…..)
    Turcot Interchange-needs being rebuilt( but will it need being rebuilt AGAIN- 30 years from now?)
    (I watched the Turcot Interchange get built……..(likely in preparation for Expo 67)(I saw the Decarie Expressway get dug-and built too)
    Ville Marie Expressway(and the overpass in Laval) both LESS than 40 years old-( again- urban sprawl……)falling apart-( we-(Toronto-just replaced-2 overpasses- here- built in the late 1950s-( but it really badly inconvenienced a LOT of people-( other than motorists) for close to 2 years……..(pedestrians especially)
    We are paying -NOW- for decisions-BAD ones- made years ago-BAD planning……………(in BOTH Montreal and Toronto)
    ( the 2 most solid bridges across the St Lawrence-(BOTH RAIL bridges(the Victoria Bridge( and the St Lawrence Bridge( next to the Mercier Bridge)…
    yet rail(as passenger transit) STILL gets REALLY neglected( in favor of the CAR)
    ( maybe the suburbs are wealthier(but if the Bridges leading into Montreal-become too unsafe to use…..)( except for the Louis Hippolyte- LaFontaine Tunnel( up in Boucherville)……..
    (I have always wondered WHY-the Longueuil Metro Line-NEVER got extended down the South Shore( after 1967)….
    (they had the Montreal and Southern Counties service(that could have been extended south……….(after 1956-but NOOOOOOOO…….)to service the growing suburbs……..

    what GOOD- is living in a suburb-( where unless you have a CAR-)( a working Car-)if you can’t go ANYWHERE?

    (in Toronto-its NOW-that people left the suburbs-(and now-live in the City-( and where the Suburbs- went POOR-(NO Dorvals- or Beaconsfields-or Kirklands-here!)

    The REAL problem( as we have it here(and likely in Montreal also-) is that the developers- have so much money-they can go to the muncipal boards- and OVERRULE- communities- who DON’T want developers….(which they DO-)
    ( a street I used to live on-the developers targeted senior citizens-( and 40 older houses got demolished-in a 1 1/2 year period….(one developer had to buy a house he built(he could not sell it)….

    (a LOT of condos-get built-on mere Speculation……….( and then go empty( that happened-with Toronto office space-in the 1980s…..)

    (Build it-( and they WILL- COME?)..
    Not neccesarily…..
    ( when they built the Trump Tower-here- I thought-‘luxury you CAN’T afford-(I worked at a condo-in the 1970s( as a security guard( even then-they had to regularly change and update-the resident name list( even over a few month period)

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