Québec has municipal elections on a set date every four years. Candidate campaigns are now in full swing with voting scheduled for November 7. Items high on the agendas in most municipalities – housing and population density.
I live in Pointe-Claire, an on-island suburb of Montréal.
That is the question! The future of residential development has become Pointe-Claire’s defining ballot box question. Several candidates, such as Tim Thomas (mayoral candidate) and Brent Cowan (incumbent councillor) are very good at saying what they opposed and what they are against such as:
We don’t know what they stand for, except for some kind of antiquated vision of a car-centric town frozen in the 1970’s. Cities evolve! Cities do not stand still. If they do stand still , they rot.
Globally, cities and the inner suburbs are densifying to make better use of land:
Density comes in various forms. Personally, I have zero desire to live anywhere that I cannot get up to on my own two feet. The older I get, the lower the floor, maybe? That being said, there is a place for high-rise residential development, such as the corner of Blvd. St-Jean and Hymus. The NIMBY movement should have embraced the project but fought for enhanced landscaping and building orientation that would provide sound barrier benefits and maximized backyard privacy. There should be a way to re-zone a little part of the industrial park for high-rise residential near the Sources Road REM station.
Good: The Charlebois condo project will make Pointe-Claire Village a better place. It is a modest three floors with facades that blend well with the surrounding architecture. It replaces a decaying, dangerous structure and a brutally ugly parking lot.
Bad: The single-family development at Hastings and Walton is, frankly, butt ugly. This is not the developer’s fault. This is not what it wanted to build. A three or four floor multi-unit building with exteriors mirroring the Magil bungalows and splits would have been a much better fit. I think that 25 % of the site could have been public park. There may even have been room for a convenience store to avoid car trips for beer or milk.
The old Pointe-Claire Shopping Centre provides a phenomenal opportunity for non-intrusive, additive re-development. It could include mid-rise residential not much higher than the hill on the northern boundary, enhanced retail, flex-office space, public squares, and entertainment alternatives.
I do think that the Fairview Forest does need protection. However, the REM station there means agglomeration / metro-government pressure to build residential on the Cadillac-Fairview lands. So, cause Cadillac-Fairview to be economical with land use. Give them height but force the greening of the shopping centre’s parking lot in compensation for any lost green space. Mature tree plantation along St-Jean, Brunswick, and the REM line would be a nice start.
I wanted to get into up-zoning and and the role it has to play in improving density and land use. However, this newsletter has run on long enough. My focus has been Pointe-Claire. But, somehow I think its local issues resonate in many, many municipalities.
“Prime Ministers are not chosen to seek popularity. They are chosen to provide leadership. There are times when voters must be told not what they want to hear but why they have to know”.
“Leaders must not govern for easy headlines in 10 days but for a better Canada in 10 years – and they must be ready to endure the attacks that often accompany profound or controversial change.”Former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney Club Mont-Royale, October 25, 2021. His comments were about national leadership but these two memorable quotations apply to all elected officials.
Mulroney applied: Clearly, Cowan and Thomas like easy headlines and seek popularity. This is not the kind of leadership that we need in municipal politics. I will be voting for John Belvedere.
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