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Saint-Lambert approves controversial project to restore former masonic temple

Click to play video 'Masonic temple conversion project gets green light' Masonic temple conversion project gets green light
WATCH ABOVE: Plans to convert an old Masonic temple in Saint-Lambert into a bistro, public market and an adjacent office tower, were approved by city council late Thursday night, but not before residents voiced their concerns. Gloria Henriquez reports – Oct 14, 2016

Saint-Lambert city council approved a controversial project to renovate a historic former masonic temple Thursday night by a vote of six to one.

The city bought the temple in 1999 and has been looking for an investor ever since, pushed by citizens to turn it into a cultural space.

The investor has finally come but so has a slew of questions around the project.

For four hours, Saint-Lambert residents lined up expressing concerns over the towering size of the $8-million dollar project at a council meeting.

The proposal features a market, a bistro and an attached three-storey building to serve as an “all the rage” co-working space.

The effort will restore the rickety leftovers of what was the masonic temple, at the corner of Lorne and Elm streets which has had no maintenance in decades.

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And although most in attendance praised the initiative, its looks were an issue.

“What we’ll have there is a factory,” Edgar Hay-Ellis, who lives near the project, said.

The developer, Max Dubois, is a well-known local cheese shop owner supported by business mogul Alexandre Taillefer.

READ MORE: #GreatMTLer: Meet Alexandre Taillefer, the visionary with a strong social conscience

At times Dubois became impatient and seemed frustrated with the slew of questions coming his way.

“It just feels like too much,” Gwenda Wells, the head priest of the Anglican Church next door to the temple, said.

St. Barnabas church is a 100-year-old Neo-Tudor-style building.

Wells would like to see a more modest design that fits in more with the area’s Victorian architecture.

“Build something onto it, but nowhere near the same scale [of the proposed building],” Wells said.

The city says the proposal is the breath of fresh air the downtown area needs.

“It will revitalize the city centre, it will help a lot of people including those elders that live around the street, that want to shop at that future store,” Boris Chassagne, the head of Saint-Lambert’s urban planning committee said.

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The developer says he will take all of the concerns into consideration before construction starts in March 2017.