Residents can voice objections to densification plans
West Island municipalities must consult and reach consensus when it comes to tabling urban plans.
A developer is proposing to be build a high-density residential project on St-Jean Blvd. in Dollard-des-Ormeaux. Some nearby residents, however, hope to block a rezoning process through a public register at city hall on Jan. 19. The site to be redeveloped had previously housed a restaurant and a tire store. 3612stjean.com
It’s a new year but the push for residential densification remains a planning concern across several West Island suburbs, particularly with the arrival of the Réseau express métropolitain (REM) stations and potential transit-oriented development (TOD) projects.
Despite cynicism or apathy, citizens are provided opportunities to speak out through official means, such as a public consultation or register process, although the desired outcome for some might seem an uphill battle.
In Dorval, residents are invited to fill out a 15-minute online survey until Jan. 20 to help steer the city’s urban planification consultation process for select sectors deemed to have potential for redevelopment or repurposing.
Dorval had imposed a development freeze on a triangle area between Highway 520, Highway 20 and 55th Ave., as well as select lots on Herron Rd., Dorval Ave., Montreal-Lachine Rd. and the Bell and Novartis properties on Bouchard Blvd. that would require zoning changes for future projects. The city will hold some workshops this month, then draft a preliminary vision by March with the aim of presenting a final planning program for these sectors around June.
How many citizens will speak out remains to be seen. The usual civic activists will be front and centre, but it’s likely that the updated planning guidelines, and the consultation process in general, won’t meet everyone’s expectations. Still, Dorval needs to address concerns raised, from traffic or calls for affordable or social housing to be included in any multi-unit projects, before tabling a consensus vision.
Meanwhile, there are upcoming registers at Dollard-des-Ormeaux city hall for two high-density residential projects that require some spot zoning amendments.
A Jan. 18 register is being held to deal with a request to authorize the construction of two apartment buildings at 35-37 Brunswick Blvd., a project to replace a three-storey residential building of 149 units that was demolished following a fire in 2021. The promoter wants to build 250 units, a building of six floors fronting Brunswick Blvd. and one of three storeys at the rear of the property near existing single-family homes. A traffic study deemed the impact of additional traffic from this project is insignificant.
It’s noted the arrival of a REM station (Sources in Pointe-Claire) will fall within a radius of one kilometer of this project. Dollard also notes it does not have a bylaw concerning affordable, social and family housing.
This project will be deemed approved by qualified voters if fewer than 269 sign a register next Wednesday.
A proposed 272-unit residential project on St-Jean Blvd. that sets to redevelop lots that once housed a restaurant and tire store is facing backlash from nearby residents who are gearing up for a Jan. 19 register, which requires 446 signatures from qualified voters to block it. While the project backs onto Morningside St., there will be no vehicle access to it. Part of the project will reach nine storeys. The city notes the Fairview-Pointe-Claire REM station falls within a radius of 1.2 kilometres of this high-density project, which is expected to encourage public transit, cycling and car sharing.
Deborah Ancel, a local resident who sits on Dollard’s traffic committee, is open to the general idea of residential development at this site, but she is opposed to the scale of the proposed project, including shortcomings with setbacks and parking.
“It’s probably one of the closest properties Dollard has to the new REM train. It’s hugely valuable for something like a residential project,” she said.
“The issue is the scope of the project,” she added. “The developer is building four buildings on the property. There is going to be a four-storey condo lined up facing the houses (on Morningside).”
A flyer is being distributed in the Elm Park and Westminster neighbourhoods to encourage residents to sign the register next Thursday.
Input — or backlash — from West Islanders has resulted in changes being made to proposed redevelopment projects in recent years, ranging from the debate of single-family homes over townhouses at the former Walton Ave. strip mall in Pointe-Claire, to the large-scale plans to revitalize the former Merck Frosst campus located between Brunswick Blvd. and the Highway 40 service road in Kirkland.
However, mixed housing options are in demand, as aging West Islanders want to downsize while young families might seek starter homes.