Saturday, January 21, 2012

Public Space (what public space ?) Griffintowners Want to Know

MONTREAL – At a public meeting on the future of Griffintown Saturday, residents of the fast-developing area south of downtown peppered City of Montreal bureaucrats with questions about when they will begin see real neighbourhood amenities, like parks, amidst all the condos and office buildings.

“When we look at the plans, we don’t see any municipal infrastructure, like community centres, sports centres, parks and pools,” one young Griffintown resident asked. “We see there are trees and green spaces planned for the courtyards of all these new buildings, but these are mostly for the use of people living in those buildings. Where are the public spaces?”

In recent years, more than 20 different real estate projects have been proposed for Griffintown, an area delineated by Notre Dame St. W. to the north, the Lachine Canal to the south, Georges Vanier Blvd. to the west and the Bonaventure Expressway to the east.

Together these projects, some of which are still at the study stage while others are under construction, could bring more than 7,000 new households to Griffintown, and more than 150,000 square metres of commercial or office space.

Some of these projects, such as the Devimco commercial and residential project, have already been the subject of public hearings. But this fall, the city called a freeze on zoning changes in the sector and asked its public consultation agency, the Office de consultation publique de Montréal, to hold public hearings to try to establish a consensus vision for all of Griffintown.

Saturday’s meeting at the École de technologie supérieure was an “open house”, a precursor to the official public consultations to be held Feb. 13. About 300 people showed up in the morning to browse through the displays and about 100 of them stayed on for the afternoon question and answer session.

OCPM chairperson Louise Roy told the meeting that the OCPM has met with about 50 different groups and individuals concerned with the future of Griffintown since September.

She said four or five different visions are emerging. Some see the area as an extension of downtown with high-rises and office buildings. Others want it to be an extension of Old Montreal with its emphasis on culture and creativity. Some see it as belonging to the Southwest Borough and hope to preserve the working-class feel of neighbourhoods like Little Burgundy and St. Henri, while still others want a densely populated, animated neighbourhood that attracts young families, artists and students like Plateau Mont Royal did before property values there skyrocketed. Roy said the area could ultimately have elements of several or all of these visions,

The OCPM’s formal public hearings on Griffintown begin Feb. 13 at 7 p.m., at 1550 Metcalfe, 14th floor (Peel metro station). Those who wish to submit a written brief or address the hearings in person must register by Feb. 9. For more information, go to

The OCPM report on these hearings is expected to be delivered to city council in early April

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