The Hippodrome, also known as Blue Bonnets, is one step closer to becoming a new urban neighbourhood.
Quebec announced Tuesday it has given up the land to the city of Montreal. Mayor Denis Coderre announced plans for a 5,000 unit housing development.
“It’s very rare on the island of Montreal that was have a chance to build a community like this from A to Z,” said Russell Copeman, the city’s pointman on housing and the Mayor of Cote-des-Neiges/NDG.
There will be public consultations to decide what the new community will look like.
“We’re talking about a green district, more parks, we’re talking about schools, were talking about providing all the services,” said Mayor Denis Coderre.
Thirty per cent of the housing will be affordable and social housing.
According to the deal with Quebec, the city has to begin selling the land to developers within six years.
WATCH: Hippodrome development project one step closer to reality
Between now and then, they’ll have to demolish the asbestos-filled clubhouse and install sewers, power lines and other necessary infrastructure.
“The site is without services at the moment so it’s going to take us some time to do the planning that’s necessary,” said Copeman.
Critics wonder what took so long.
“Council voted in 2012 to have the land transferred but Quebec never followed through. The club house was supposed to be demolished in 2014. A public consultation was supposed to be held in 2015 and 2016. This year we were supposed to start selling off this land parcel by parcel. None of that’s happened,” said Snowdon City Councillor Marvin Rotrand.
Quebec Finance Minister Carlos Leitao blamed the political turmoil that hit Montreal in 2012 for the delays.
“There were several changes in government, several changes in municipal administrations. Now we are ready to sign and that’s what we’re going to do,” said Leitao.
The land transfer also helps the city move ahead with the long-awaited Cavendish extension.
“Cavendish-Cavendish will happen. But first things first: we needed to settle that issue,” Coderre said.
Critics worry about potential traffic chaos if the Hippodrome is developed before the two sides of Cavendish are connected.
“There’s still a lot of questions that need to be answered. How is this area going to accommodate all that new traffic?
But the city is confident everything will work out.
“We believe the two projects will keep pace with each other,” Copeman said.