MONTREAL – Speeding horses no longer circle the Blue Bonnets Raceway at the Montreal Hippodrome after having closed up shop in 2009. However, groups and residents of Côte-des-Neiges have a plan for the land it sits on.
Housing rights group Project Genesis wants 2,500 social housing units built on the 43 hectare site.
They’ve been fighting for years to develop the racetrack and casino, which have been left in a derelict state since their closure.
Almost four years ago, the City of Montreal showed off a massive new residential and commercial project for the site just west of the Decarie Expressway, but it was never heard of again as the plans remained in limbo.
“We’ve been working on this issue for 20 years calling for social housing here,” community organizer Jennifer Auchinleck said.
She marched alongside residents and Project Genesis members on the site of their proposed project Tuesday afternoon.
“This is a huge piece of public land. It needs to be used to bring a response to some of the really important needs and priorities in Côte-des-Neiges,” she said.
The demonstration marked the launch of their orientation sessions aimed at informing locals of their plan and how residents can get involved.
Currently, 5,060 social housing tenants in Côte-des-Neiges pay 80 per cent or more of their income towards housing.
She fears that the conditions of the current housing situation in the borough will not be able to support the growing waiting list.
“Right now, the Quebec government only finances 1500 new social housing units per year for the whole province,” Auchinleck said.
She wants to ensure that local needs are met by the project and has been very impressed by the positive feedback from residents.
As it stands, the 43 hectares of land belong to the provincial government following a failed attempt to hand over ownership to the City of Montreal.