Côte Saint-Luc Road has become the focal point of a debate in Hampstead’s election campaign, and whether some tenants have a place in the city.
“Why would I want my neighbors kicked out of their homes and unable to return?” Hampstead resident Adriana Decker wanted to know.
The dispute is over whether the Hampstead section of the main thoroughfare, between Dufferin Street and Holtham Avenue, should be zoned to allow for 10-story apartment buildings.
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According to Mayor William Steinberg, the zoning “would generate additional tax revenue of $ 1.8 million.”
He noted that apart from residential properties, the city has no other major source of income. That extra income, he insists, could help finance a major project that he thinks the municipality needs.
“Build a new civic center in four years in Hampstead Park,” he told Global News.
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Zeev Rosberger, who lives not far from City Hall on Queen Mary Road, agrees with Steingberg’s vision, saying that the gardening community does not have a commercial tax base and therefore the additional income would be welcome.
“This is an opportunity to contribute to the life of the community, to keep taxes low and develop projects that benefit the community.”
The new 10-story buildings would mean demolishing existing moderate-income apartments on the street, according to Steinberg.
Those who disagree with the incumbent mayor point to the housing crisis in Montreal.
“There is an urgent need for moderate-income housing,” Decker emphasized, “and that’s what Hampstead has now.”
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In response to that argument, Steinberg said, “Affordable and social housing: Montreal is responsible for doing those things.”
He noted that taxes on the Hampstead agglomerations help pay for these types of housing.
The new 10-story apartments would likely be too expensive for current tenants, he said.
“It will attract people from other buildings where they can pay,” he said, “and that will create more vacancies in the cheaper buildings.”
He argued that the city would help tenants find new places.
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Decker said she was angry at Steinberg’s reasoning.
“That is exactly what gentrification is,” he said. Moderate income people want to live in Hampstead because they work close to [the town] and because they grew up here. “
“They want to enjoy the amazing parks and amenities that we have.”
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Jeremy Levi, Steinberg’s opponent for mayor, believes that any plan to redevelop the Côte Saint-Luc Road should not be rushed.
“If we can find a way to make tenants happy, and the Queen Mary [Road] happy owners, ”he said,“ that’s fair ”.
Homeowners on Queen Mary Road argue that the 10-story buildings in Côte Saint-Luc would block sunlight and cause even more traffic congestion in the area.
Levi also questions the plan for a new civic center.
“A $ 20 million civic center is not necessarily the best for Hampstead,” he said.
Levi believes it would put the city into debt, noting that one at half the cost could be manageable.
Residents go to the polls on November 7.
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