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Westmount residents oppose local reconstruction project

Westmount residents opposed to new development project
WATCH: Some residents of Westmount are opposed to a new condo development project they say does not respect the footprint and the heritage of the area. Global's Shakti Langlois-Ortega explains.

A group of Westmount residents is fighting a development project that will turn an old building, located at the corner of Claremont and Windsor avenues, into high-end apartments.

“We’re not saying don’t develop it,” said Elizabeth Currie, who is leading the fight.

“It clearly needs to be given some love, everyone said it, but it really needs to be done differently.”

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The group opposes the city’s approval to grant zoning exemptions to the building’s developer, which they say will increase its height and width and cause more traffic and noise.

Frank Philpott, who lives nearby, has been against the project since day one.

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“We were upset with it from the beginning because [the building] is far too big,” he said.

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Popular Westmount area becoming ghost town
Popular Westmount area becoming ghost town

A total of 122 signatures were needed on the registry for the city to consider calling a referendum, but only 77 people showed up to sign.

“We are very unhappy that the registry was done during the construction holiday,” Currie said, adding that they would pursue the battle.

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This is the group’s second attempt. In January 2018, when the city first approved the developer’s proposal, 85 residents signed the registry — 37 signatures below the amount required to trigger a referendum.

The city originally granted the developer the right to build at the current height, even if it is higher than the area’s zoning allows for.

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The deteriorating conditions of the fifth floor, however, forced the developer to submit a second proposal, in order to demolish and rebuild the top floor.  The city approved it last month.

“It seems to be an even greater give from the city to this developer, with so much opposition from the community and so little give back to the community,” Currie said.

The group says the new, larger building does not belong in the neighbourhood.

“The building is already too big for the area, so if they would just remove that top floor and maybe expand it a bit, we’d be much happier,” Philpott said.

The new building at 500 Claremont avenue will include 20 units and 43 underground parking spots
The new building at 500 Claremont avenue will include 20 units and 43 underground parking spots. City of Westmount

The new development includes 20 luxury apartments with an underground parking garage for 43 cars.

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The garage’s entrance will be on Claremont Avenue, across from a playground. The increased traffic could be dangerous, according to Currie.

Westmount’s Commissioner of Urban Planning, Permits and Architecture, Conrad Peart, disagrees. He understands their concern, but he says it is overstated.

“Twenty units on a daily basis is not generating a lot of traffic,” he said. “It’s just too small of a project to have an outsized risk.”

The developer was not available for comment.