The Town of Hampstead in Montreal is planning to hold a referendum to decide the fate of two affordable apartment buildings on Côte Saint Luc Road.
About 250 people signed a public register on Wednesday, voting in favour of holding a referendum to decide the issue — 212 votes were needed to push for action.
The fate of the affordable apartments has divided the Hampstead community. Mayor William Steinberg says he is strongly in favour of the development project as it will revitalize what he calls a rundown area.
The developers, Mitchell Abrahams and Mitchell Moss, have promised to help relocate residents to other affordable units in the area.
“To relocate all these people, it does not seem to be very easy to me,” Demers said.
“Considering the housing situation in Montreal, it seems nearly impossible.”
For residents in the building, the news of a referendum gives them some hope.
Clarita Llobrera’s 86-year-old husband has suffered from heart problems recently. She believes it’s partly due to stress over the future of their home.
“That is the scary part of my situation,” Llobrera said. “We don’t know where to go.”
The elderly couple has lived in their tiny, three-room basement unit for 25 years. They survive off a small government pension and say their apartment is all they can afford.
Hampstead resident and activist Leah Lasry has been largely credited for getting enough signatures on the register.
With only two hours left to vote, just 100 people had signed the register, so a tenant called her for help.
“I said, ‘the fate of these people are in your hands, if they are uprooted where will they go?'” Lasry said.
The buildings’ tenants note they now have a fight on their hands, hoping that the town abandons the project completely — but the developers say they don’t plan to give up.
“About 10 per cent of the population voted against it,” said the developers spokesperson, Jonathan Goldbloom.
“We feel that 90 per cent of the population, a good percentage of that, supports us and believes it will be good for Hampstead and we will go through the democratic process.”
Town council is expected to hold a meeting next Monday where councillors will decide when to hold the referendum.