Plans for a new residential project in Pointe-Claire are adding to the debate in that city’s election campaign about densification.
City council voted recently to demolish office buildings at Place Frontenac on Brunswick Boulevard near St-Jean Boulevard to build an apartment complex.
“It’ll be rental units,” explained mayoral incumbent John Belvedere outside Pointe-Claire city hall. “It’ll be located close to public transit, it’s located close to the REM (Réseau express métropolitain) and there’ll be a shuttle bus from there to get to the REM.”
According to Belvedere, there’ll be around 700 units.
Tim Thomas, who is running against Belevedere for mayor in November, is against it.
“The first important objection is densification,” he said. “It’s going to jam up that part of the city.”
He claimed that traffic in that area is already heavy and that such a massive project will only make it worse.
Thomas opposes the project for another reason.
“The development of Frontenac is turning commercial land into residential land,” he stated.
That, Thomas argues, would rob the city of potential revenue from commercial taxes.
Brent Cowan, an incumbent city councillor who voted against the project, shares some of Thomas’s concerns and points to another massive real estate project not far from Place Frontenac next to the Fairview shopping mall.
“When you do a major commercial investment, it attracts other commercial investment,” Cowan argued. “However, if all the space is gone to residential, then those opportunities will be lost.”
He thinks the project is in the wrong place.
Cowan also worries about the number of large real estate projects planned for the city all at once. He says that while population growth is inevitable in the West Island, “it doesn’t all have to be in Pointe-Claire.”
According to Thomas, the current population deserves better.
“They didn’t come here to get cement and glass and steel and cars all over the place, and pollution and then the need for new roads,” he said.
Belevedere, though, said the Place Frontenac project is needed and that it’ll give residents options.
“The whole idea about densifying close to public transit,” he explained, “is that people will use public transit.”
Belvedere also claimed there won’t be a loss of commercial tax revenue since the project will be a mix of commercial and residential units and that the city’s industrial sector is doing well.
Come November, residents will have their say.