Without parks or schools, opponents fight Griffintown 'pseudo-neighbourhood'
Published Tuesday, February 14, 2012 3:01PM EST
MONTREAL - After years of concerns and delays, public consultations on the new mega-project to redevelop Griffintown started on Monday evening amid concerns the plans aren't family-friendly enough.
With 80 people on hand for the Monday session, concerns were raised over how liveable the future Griffintown neighbourhood could be.
Long neglected, the tight-knit community just south of downtown is known to local lore as a hardscrabble breeding ground for boxers, politicians and priests.
"I want to emphasize the need for a comprehensive urban planning approach, the objective should be clearly defined and the city should know where it's going," said Joseph Baker, a professor of architecture at McGill.
Baker warns that the current plans prioritize small apartments, not the type of lodgings necessary to accommodate families.
"It's one thing to have an idea, but we need public space, we need parks and friendly streets," said Veronique Fournier, a city councillor for the South West borough.
"If we keep on going this way, we'll have 20,000 housing units with 40,000 people living there," said Richard Bergeron, the head of opposition party Project Montreal. Bergeron called the current Griffintown plan a "pseudo-neighbourhood."
Without a park, playground or second school, the opposition leader warned that the neighbourhood would die.
"What we see on TV is that they destroy these neighbourhoods with dynamite and its spectacular," said Bergeron.
Warning of a wrecking ball within two decades if the plans don't change, Baker joined in by sounding the alarm about the influence of real-estate speculators in the project.
"It is being eyed by all kind of spectators," said Baker. Units are currently being sold $300 to $400 per square foot.
A massive $1.3 billion rebuild of Griffintown proposed in 2008 fell through when developer Devimco bailed due to lack of funding. More modest plans now call for a handful of 20-storey towers.
More consultations will be held on Wednesday and Thursday.
Phase I of the Griffintown redevelopment project comes with a $475 million pricetag.