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What do you think of plan to densify the suburbs? Dorval is latest to tackle the debate

A 10-storey condo building is being proposed for Dorval. A residential building of this height would be a first for the municipality. But it won’t stand alone. It is part of a larger development planned for what is now an open tract of land on the eastern edge of the Queen of Angels Academy campus, just off Bouchard Blvd. The development would include two other condo buildings – one eight storeys high, another four. In all, there would be about 240 condo units and an additional 42 townhouses. Residents who already live in the area were given a peek at what it would all look like at a public consultation meeting last Monday evening. They are not happy.

The general consensus is that putting that many residences in that area will forever change the character of the neighbourhood, which is now composed of single-family homes surrounded by open, undeveloped land.

This sets the scene for the zoning change process, which is required to permit this development to be realized. Those who are proposing the development will lock horns with those who oppose it. Let the battle begin.

It’s a process that has been played out in many West Island municipalities. At the heart of the debate is the notion of population density. As towns grow, municipal planners – both at the local and regional levels – envision increasing population densities for a variety of reasons. Local residents – many of them established for decades in the targeted neighbourhoods – do not want to see their areas change. They want to keep what they bought into.

There are no rights or wrongs. It is merely differing visions of the future colliding. And this debate is not going to go away. It will be witnessed more and more frequently, in more and more neighbourhoods.

Regional planners in the Montreal area have adopted what is referred to in local political circles as the PMAD, the Plan métropolitain d’aménagement et de développement. It is a blueprint of sorts that outlines how population densities on and around the island of Montreal should evolve. In most cases, and particularly in areas next to public transportation routes, it calls for increasing the number of households per square kilometre. It will change – over time – drastically change the look of the suburbs.

Sprawling lawns around single-family homes – the traditional shape development has taken in the suburbs – will no longer be the norm. And with more people living in tighter proximity there is added congestion – more cars, more traffic, more noise, and more pollution. It is already starting in some areas of the West Island, Look at Pierrefonds. And look at the traffic on the north-south arteries at rush hour. It’s gridlock on the roads as everyone makes their way to the highway.

But it also makes homeownership affordable to a more. Because, let’s face it, with what was considered a starter home 30 years ago now valued at about $400,000 to $500,000, how many young couples can afford a spot in the ’burbs?

What is your opinion on how the face of the suburbs is changing? Add your comments below.

Brenda O’Farrell

6 comments

  1. Pingback: Does the West Island need more condos? | News Québec

  2. Hate it. Absolutely hate it. I came to Montreal and didnt even consider Toronto exactly because you still have lots of houses with a proper garden around it. I have kids and I want them to grow up with nature as much as possible so close to the city. That means a garden and not a 10 storey condo unit with mabe a parc full of who knows what/who in the middle of 3 other such units.

  3. By Pierre Doyon

    More density means less people having to move off island, away from existing infrastructure. Also, fear that a new project will lower property values is mistaken: as first home buyers and their families grow, they will eventually wish to move into traditional single family homes nearby (not wanting to leave the neighborhood), increasing the value of nearby homes. This new project will have parking of its own, and dedicated roads so why would people living in this complex wander off to side streets in the search fro parking?

  4. If they build those new buildings, traffic on Bouchard Ave could start to be a real problem. With the recently built Espace MV3 condos it is already quite difficult to make left turns off of Bouchard during rush hour. Hopefully we will see a reduction in traffic when Queen of Angels closes its doors in June and if we are really lucky I’d like to see the painfully slow 30-zone changed back into a 50 zone.

  5. A single family home next to lots of 10+ storey condos? No thanks! The problems of these types of buildings spread around. Moreso they tend to get brother and sister buildings nearby (what developer wouldnt do that when their first project sold out quickly).

    As for infrastructure. What infrastructure? Build proper interchanges. Maintain the roads properly. Build proper public transit (i know montreal is actually not that bad for north american standards). build lots of smaller hospitals instead of two big ones. Have them specialize in certain areas and allow off islanders to go where their special needs get met.

    In general, none of the problems we seem to be having here should be real obstacles. Take a densly populated european country as a good example and just do as they do. Instead of squeezing everything onto on little island and leaving the rest of the country empty have medium sized cities all over the place interconnecting them properly.

    You know driving 160km/h is not a big deal if youre doing it on a German Autobahn. They do have speed limits in certain places obviously but still. Coming out of Frankfurt airport with the rental car you can start driving really fast on your 3 lane autobahn almost immediately and you wont spill your coffee while doing that if you know what I mean.

    Now Frankfurt seems to only have about 600k inhabitants but there are both other kinda large cities as well as lots of smaller towns nearby. According to wikipedia the greater area has even more than Montreal even. I lived there for 2 years in a 40k town, close to the woods (2 minute walk). 20 minutes by train to the Frankfurt main station

  6. Our communities are not equipped to “densify”, particularly our infrastructure. It is collapsing as it is; add “density” and that’s all she wrote, Jack. Our hospital, our medical clinics, our police force, our water, our utilities – all of which are stretched to breaking cannot sustain much more loadbearing. Before any of our municipal urban planning wizards create more problems than are, currently, present; here’s a thought, how about ensuring that existing services are sufficient to meet the current needs of the population and THEN, before granting construction permits, create blueprints for infrastructure expansion, examine the feasibility and only then allow for this density initiative. Of course, common sense always takes a backseat government sanctioned pipedreams fueled by greed.

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