Divided opinions over 10-storey complex zoning in Hampstead at heart of mayoral race
MONTREAL -- Bill Steinberg is running for his fifth term as mayor of the Town of Hampstead.
This time around, the stakes are high over an issue that has the town divided: whether 10-storey residential complexes should be built on Cote-Saint-Luc Road.
It's a question that was already shot down once by a referendum in 2019.
But Steinberg is firmly in support of the project.
"We have to upsell Cote-Saint-Luc Road to allow 10-storey buildings. [It's] $1.8 million in extra tax revenue every year."
It's an idea his opponent, Jeremy Levi, strongly rejects.
"Hampstead said very loud and clear, with almost 70 per cent of the voter turnout, that they do not want 10-storey buildings."
Many Hampstead residents had strong opinions about the referendum.
Going forward, Steinberg wants the whole town to vote on 10-storey developments -- and says the additional tax revenue would fund a new community centre.
"I'm not going to raise taxes, I'm not going to cut services. We need new money, I'm not going to bring businesses to the town, I'm not going to bring industry to the town," he said.
But Levi says more details are needed.
"We need to do a needs analysis of what that community centre is going to look like. What's being proposed right now is $20 million which would severely impact the town's finances."
Hampstead is made up of almost exclusively low-slung, treelined homes. There are no businesses in the town.
Some residents are fearful the development issue hasn't gone away.
"I guess I'm just concerned about how democratic it is, because there was a referendum, and it was pretty clear that the answer was no, and now it's coming back again," said resident Irina Blumer.
Levi echoed this sentiment.
"It's time the mayor started listening to everybody, and this can't be a unilateral decision."
Steinberg says the entirety of his campaign hinges on this issue.
"A vote for me, everybody knows, is a vote for upselling Cote-Saint-Luc Road for 10-storey zoning. "
Hampstead voters can start voting in person on Oct. 31.