Kramberger: West Island densification projects piling up as REM nears

The firm behind the construction of a condo in Dollard-des-Ormeaux boasts that unit buyers “will be living within minutes of the future West Island REM station” in Pointe-Claire.


The arrival of the Réseau Express Metropolitain stations will continue to promote residential densification near the six stops that will eventually serve West Islanders, in addition to the station at Trudeau Airport.

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The city of Pointe-Claire will consult this fall to prepare a new planning program after filing an interim control statute halting development in some core areas, including a wooded lot and a major shopping center owned by Cadillac Fairview Corp. a along highway 40.

Cadillac Fairview, which this year will pay about $19 million in property taxes to the city for its mall and adjacent wooded lot, has filed legal action against Pointe-Claire over the temporary redevelopment freeze established by the interim control statute. .

Cadillac Fairview’s high-density development vision is on hold not only for the forest, which was also included in an interim control charter introduced in the spring by the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal, but also for a project for a section of the parking lot. from the mall, which is adjacent to the future Fairview-Pointe-Claire REM station. The proposed parking project was to include 435 senior residential units and two residential buildings with 445 rental units.

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However, some projects in neighboring municipalities are underway. For example, the firm behind the construction of a condominium on St-Jean Blvd. in Dollard-des-Ormeaux boasts that buyers of units, starting in the $500,000 range, “will live minutes from the future REM station.” from West Island” in Pointe-Claire that will allow them to “get to downtown Montreal and the airport in less than 30 minutes.”

Kirkland officials have noted that the arrival of the REM will transform West Island for years to come. The city has earmarked residential development on part of the Charles-E. Frost site, just west of Fairview Forest.

Pierrefonds-Roxboro recently inquired about a proposed 111-unit, six-story residential building with some commercial use on the ground floor on Gouin Blvd., near the future Sunnybrooke REM station. The area is occupied by two commercial buildings that would need to be demolished.

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While the areas around the REM stations would fall within what is considered transit-oriented development, there is divided public support for the Gouin Blvd. high-density project based on a participatory survey. The next step in the process is a referendum approval procedure for qualified voters, according to the municipality’s website.

A growing dispute, playing out online and during public meetings, between Pointe-Claire Mayor Tim Thomas and several councilmembers who were re-elected last fall will likely complicate the city’s efforts to conduct a new planning program. .

On top of that, there is lobbying to preserve the Fairview Forest. Will Pointe-Claire and the greater Montreal area seek to acquire the forest, and at what cost?

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The Angell Woods dossier in Beaconsfield was part of long-standing conservation efforts initially established by a citizens’ lobby group and later adopted by the city council. Beaconsfield had filed an interim control statute in 2010 in respect of the forest. In 2018, Montreal bought a 200,000-square-foot piece of land in Angell Woods, between Elm Ave. and Highway 40, from Seda Holdings for $14 million.

In the past, municipal authorities have also exchanged land with developers as part of conservation efforts.

Even in an expropriation process, there is usually compensation to the private owner.

It will be interesting to monitor how the Fairview Forest file is resolved beyond interim control statutes. Can Montreal negotiate a purchase or land swap deal? Perhaps the new planning guidelines for the Fairview parking lot redevelopment will be a factor in any deal for the adjacent forest.

Even if the opening of the rail network is delayed on West Island until the end of 2024, it is likely that the REM will be executed before the forestry file is resolved.

Albert Kramberger is editor of the West Island/Off-Island section of the Montreal Gazette.

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