Urban development plan slated for adoption tomorrow

Social housing, transit, environment, top agglo priority list

By Robert Frank

Montreal’s new urban development plan will get its official blessing during an official meeting tomorrow, at 12:30 p.m. The proposals entail big changes for all the island’s municipalities.

The committee of six mayors, chaired by Darlington district Councillor Lionel Perez, has been burning the midnight oil during the past month to hammer out an agreement on what those changes will be.

After the committee endorses the urban development plan tomorrow, it will go before the Montreal Agglomeration Council, Jan. 29, for final adoption.

The committee finalized most of the details last week, during three, nine-hour marathon meetings, Dec. 2-4 and, as The Suburban went to press, was slated to fine-tune the draft during a final teleconference.

Lac Mégantic spurs 30/300 rule

Social housing for Montreal’s needy forms one of the top priorities. At the urging of Côte des Neiges–Notre Dame de Grâce borough Mayor Russell Copeman, the city is expected to clear the way for much-needed social housing construction on the site of the former Blue Bonnets racetrack.

Suburban environment advocates will also likely be pleased by the plan that will be unveiled tomorrow.

In the wake of last year’s conflagration at Lac Mégantic, new rules will prevent homes, schools, parks and daycares from being built within 30 metres of a rail line nor within 300 metres of a rail yard.

The mayors are also expected to endorse the 57-hectare Meadowbrook nature park in Côte St. Luc and Lachine.

On the West Island, Mayor Georges Bourelle expects to see a large swathe of development land in Beaconsfield protected. Since most of the island’s remaining treed space is located on the West Island, Montreal is unlikely to meet its green space goals unless it acquires the mostly privately held property.

Since the land is adjacent to the Beaurepaire commuter train station, the provision will override the plan’s sustainable development strictures, which call for transit-oriented development within in a one-kilometre radius of public transit nodes—an area that comprises most of Angell Woods.

New plots for family residences are also expected henceforth to be limited to 10,000 sq.ft. The restriction will be felt most strongly in West Island suburbs like Senneville, which are known for their large, stately properties.

West Island stuck in the ‘60s

Transportation was another top priority for the municipal politicians. As reported this summer in The Suburban, many West Islanders have been taking local jobs to avoid Montreal’s growing traffic congestion.

The Suburban has learned that—from LaSalle to the western tip of the island—the new urban plan will eschew mass-transit in favour of 1960s-style automobile-oriented development. A cornerstone of the plan involves extending Highway 440 north from Highway 40 in Kirkland to Gouin in Pierrefonds.

Mayors Michel Gibson (Kirkland) and Jim Beis (Pierrefonds-Roxboro) support the controversial project, which will permit extensive new residential development to proceed.

It is opposed by several West Island mayors, including Dollard des Ormeaux’ Ed Janiszewski, who asserted that it will fail to relieve congestion along the West Island’s three long-overloaded north-south road arteries.

In addition to Perez, the committee responsible for the urban development plan comprises Ste. Anne de Bellevue Mayor Paola Hawa (vice-chair), as well as borough and suburban mayors Georges Bourelle (Beaconsfield), Manon Barbe (LaSalle), Gilles Deguire (Montreal Nord), Claude Dauphin (Lachine) and Éric Alan Caldwell (Mercier–Hochelaga-Maisonneuve).

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