‘It’s a lot of tax revenue’: Hampstead mayor reiterates support for housing demolition project

Click to play video: 'Hampstead mayor on the defensive over demolition project'
Hampstead mayor on the defensive over demolition project
WATCH: Hampstead Mayor William Steinberg is being called out for overturning a council vote Monday night. – Jul 17, 2019

During a special council meeting Monday night, Hampstead mayor William Steinberg vetoed a three-to-two council vote against a zoning change that would allow demolishing a housing complex on Côte-Saint-Luc Road to make way for a nine-storey apartment building.

“Going prior to about six o’clock yesterday, all the councillors had been in favour [of the project] and at the last minute, three of them obviously changed their minds,” Steinberg told Global News on Tuesday.
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Steinberg, who is openly in favour of the project, says the new building will bring in a lot of tax revenue to the city, and would enable them to fund some much-needed renovation works. 

“We desperately need a new town hall, and a new recreation centre, but we don’t have the money to do that,” he said. “If Côte-Saint-Luc Road starts getting developed, yes, we will have the money for it.”

Councillor Michael Goldwax voted against the change in the town’s zoning law, which would allow a new construction of up to 12 storeys to replace the four-storey housing complex.

“Based on conversations about what this means to us, to the town, to the residents, it was like ‘wait a minute, let’s take a step back and reconsider’,” he said. 

Many Hamsptead residents and homeowners strongly oppose the change, arguing that such a tall building does not belong in the neighbourhood.

The building’s current tenants stand to lose the most. Many of them fear not being able to find an affordable place to live in the area.

Twelve-year-old Nathaniel Deac is one of them.

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“Not only is the building going to get destroyed, all our moments, but that our whole lives in there is going to be thrown away also,” he said in an heartfelt testimony during Monday night’s council meeting.

Rosalind Smith has lived in the building for 16 years.

“We are a community here, we are a unity. It’s not just a tent that we bivouac inside of, it’s our home,” she said.

The building owners, however, say they are only playing by the rules.

“It’s sad, but we’re operating within the limits and the public policy that have been established by the city of Hampstead,” said Jonathan Goldbloom, a spokesperson for the promoters.

WATCH: (June 26, 2019) Hampstead tenants in a low-income housing worry plans to demolish building will leave them homeless

Click to play video: 'Hampstead tenants in a low-income housing worry plans to demolish building will leave them homeless'
Hampstead tenants in a low-income housing worry plans to demolish building will leave them homeless

Smith feels the tenants are not taken into consideration.

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“It’s a huge problem when money is worth more than human souls,” Smith said.

If councillors vote in favour of the project on August 5, residents will be able to file petitions, which could lead to a referendum.

On Monday night, some residents voiced their concerns that the project would set a precedent for similar constructions in the future.

“Yes, it will set a precedent. It’s a good precedent in my opinion,” Steinberg said. “If we have several projects like this, it will improve the look of Côte-Saint-Luc Road tremendously.”

“The thing that is really stinging in all of this is just how cynical and so unfeeling this process has been from the start,” said Smith.

“It feels like extreme bad faith.”

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