Controversial 13-storey condo development in heart of historic Old Montreal to go through

A rendering of the proposed project on Saint-Paul street. Wednesday January 22, 2020. City of Montreal

In spite of residents’ efforts, a controversial 13-storey condo project in the heart of the historic Old Montreal is going ahead.

On Wednesday night, a registry to halt the project failed to collect the required 179 signatures to force a referendum. It only collected 115 signatures.

“I’m so disappointed in the city that they would even let it get this far,” said Yasmine Fudakowska-Gow, who lives a few doors down from the project.

“Does that mean that they just could put towers everywhere [in Old Montreal] That’s the concern, and it would now be hard to argue that they can’t.”

The proposed building will be located on 391 Saint-Paul Street West, which is currently a parking lot.

Story continues below advertisement

According to documents from the city of Montreal, the building will feature 89 residential units.

People in the area worry such density will would bring too much traffic to the narrow street.

But most importantly, they worry the design won’t fit with the historic character of the centuries-old area.

“I think that building a skyscraper [here] would be like building a skyscraper in the middle of Paris,” said Fudakowska-Gow.
A rendering of the proposed project on Saint-Paul street. Wednesday January 22, 2020. City of Montreal

The Ville-Marie borough approved the project last December after several amendments were made to its design, including the addition of parking for bikes, exterior lighting and vines.

Breaking news from Canada and around the world sent to your email, as it happens.

It also gave the project an exception to build higher than permitted in the area, which is designated as heritage.

Story continues below advertisement

The height limit in the area is 23 metres. The building could reach 43 metres.

Residents wrote a letter to the mayor expressing their concerns.

“It’s a shame that they will change the landscape of the area. Everything else around it is really low,” said Diane Marcil who lives close to the project.

Critics like Heritage Montreal say this building would set a dangerous precedent in the heart of the historic Old Montreal, where efforts need to be made to preserve its character.

“I think Montreal has always had cultural integrity in terms of maintaining the aesthetics of the city and really good urban planning,” explained Fudakowska-Gow.

“I think this is going against that tradition.”

The city of Montreal told Global News it’s “following the democratic process.”

A city spokesperson told Global News the project fits within the borough’s vision to be a family-friendly area. They say getting rid of an empty parking lot will also contribute to the fight against so-called “heat islands”.

Story continues below advertisement

The construction permit request will have to go through an architectural revision process performed by the borough’s planning advisory committee.

It also has to be approved by Quebec’s ministry of culture and communications, which has already given a preliminary nod to the project, according to the city.

Click to play video: 'Massive new development project proposed for Montreal'
Massive new development project proposed for Montreal

Sponsored content