Hampstead residents push for referendum on Cote St. Luc Rd. project
Hampstead residents living in an apartment building now slated for demolition are trying to save their homes.
Ruth Deac is one of the tenants worried about finding a new place to live for herself and her two children.
Right now she pays about $800 per month in rent and says comparable apartments in her neighbourhood are going for $1,300.
"The $500 I save I put towards their RESP," she said as she gestured to her son and daughter.
A developer plans to tear down the apartment building that Deac and dozens of other families call home and replace it with a ten-storey, 90-unit luxury apartment complex.
Hampstead Mayor Bill Steinberg has been supporting the project for years as a way to improve Cote St. Luc Rd. and increase tax revenue for the town.
"That money can be used to better the lives of the residents in Hampstead," said Steinberg.
Not everyone is convinced.
Tempers flared -- again -- at an information session about the project on Monday.
People accuse the mayor of sending a message that less affluent people don't matter in Hampstead.
"I think that to displace people is a terrible thing to be happening and I don't think that Hampstead is a privileged area," said Raizel Candib.
Steinberg insists the displaced tenants will be taken care of, having received 17 months notice, and will get three months rent and anywhere between $1,000 and $3,000.
"Of course I feel for everybody who will have to move," said Steinberg. "It's always unfortunate but let's put it in perspective, these developers are going way above and beyond what's required."
In the meantime opponents are banding together to get enough signatures to force a referendum and stop the project
Andrew Martin believes they can do it.
"Other than the mayor and the PR firm representing the developer, besides those two vested interests I've seen nobody who's been excited about this apparent source of new tax revenue," said Martin.
Martin says if the referendum fails, he will be among those who have to move out of the town.
Steinberg is also facing a legal challenge from a group claiming Steinberg broke the law by vetoing an earlier council vote against the project.