(although I doubt they could care less what anyone else really thinks,but I guess they will likely go through the motions)
MONTREAL - It isn’t easy to draw the public out to meetings on anything municipal-related unless that anything is happening in their backyard.
So the city’s public-consultation office is trying out new tools to reach Montrealers as it prepares to hold hearings on the future of the Griffintown neighbourhood sometime in February.
The Office de la consultation publique will hold a neighbourhood “open house” and planning workshops on the weekend of
Jan. 20-21 to generate interest in the hearings, Luc Doray, the OCPM’s general manager, says.
The event will give community groups and the city a chance to present their views to the public on how the historic district between downtown and the Lachine Canal can be developed, he said.
The OCPM is using Facebook and Twitter to get the word out, as it has for hearings on previous projects. This time, it’s also posted signs in dépanneurs in Griffintown and around downtown.
“We’ve always tried to find new ways to reach people,” Doray said. “Some are successful, some are less so. But it’s going very well for that one.”
The OCPM also has launched an online consultation of sorts, allowing the public to comment on a gallery of photos of Griffintown and to post their own photos. The OCPM wants the public to comment on which views they think should be preserved and which services are needed in the area, Doray said.
“We were looking for spontaneous comments,” he said. The site will stay up until the weekend open house.
The city asked the office to hold public hearings to develop a vision and parameters for the development of the historic neighbourhood, which is on the verge of a development bonanza.
But with more than 20 residential and commercial projects already at various stages of development and approval in Griffintown, what’s the point in a consultation now?
The projects already in the works contain 7,000 new housing units and more than 150,000 square metres of commercial or office space, the Sud-Ouest borough says. The city opened the floodgates when it approved rezoning for Devimco Inc.’s $1.3-billion residential and commercial project for Griffintown in the spring of 2008, the borough says.
“There are a lot of projects already,” Doray conceded. Projects already in the pipeline will not be subject to discussion in the hearings, he noted. “But from our point of view and the city’s point of view, there’s a lot of room for new development.”
In fact, the area the city wants to develop planning guidelines for runs from the Bonaventure Expressway in the east to as far west as Georges Vanier Blvd., at the edge of Little Burgundy. It’s larger than the traditional boundaries for Griffintown, Doray said. He called the Griffintown hearings a “brainstorming session” that the city will then translate into a regulation for development in the area.
The city will develop a bylaw following the consultation to set guidelines for future developments in the area. The bylaw will then go to the OCPM for public vetting, Doray said.
The open house weekend will open with a one-day symposium on Griffintown and its history at the École de technologie supérieure at Notre Dame and Peel Sts. on Jan. 20. Space is limited to 200 spots so members of the public have to register online, he said.
The OCPM will then invite 15 to 20 community groups to set up booths where they can present their own vision of development for the neighbourhood on Jan. 21. The city will have a booth as well.
The OCPM will also invite planning experts to give workshops on planning issues during the weekend, Doray said. Ken Greenberg, the former director of urbanHave Fun and Remember Verdun Cheers ! - Les