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Montreal creates working group to push forward on plans for Hippodrome site

The City of Montreal has begun the latest chapter in plans for the abandoned Blue Bonnets/Hippodrome racetrack.

On Monday, the province and municipality announced a working group to begin creating what it envisions as the city's "next great district of the future."

The working group, set up through Claridge Inc. with president Pierre Boivin, and the Fonds de solidarité FTQ, with president and CEO Janie Béïque, will, according to the city, enable the creation of an eco-district as early as 2025.

The former site of the Hippodrome, which closed in 2009, was left derelict for almost 10 years, then demolished in 2018. The City of Montreal now owns the land, which contains no sewer system or roads.

Some 6,000 social, affordable and private housing units are expected to be built on the former racetrack site, with a public transport solution to match.

Housing will be a priority, as there's a need for 24,000 more social housing units in Montreal, said Mayor Valerie Plante.

"The racetrack site has the exceptional potential to become an eco-district that will inspire future generations and other major cities around the world," said Plante. "Within eight months, we'll have a business plan that will enable us to innovate in terms of the financial model and the partnerships to be put in place."

The completed project is set to include 20 hectares of green space, schools and office space. It will be accessible via the Namur metro station. There will be no street parking.

Earlier this month, the City of Montreal named the first developer selected to build on the abandoned Hippodrome site: Espace La Traversée. The non-profit organization specializes in housing for vulnerable populations and will create between 200 and 250 apartments on the site.

"What we're putting in place today is a new way of doing things to revitalize Blue Bonnets -- a strategic sector. It's the kind of approach that could be replicated elsewhere, in the east end of Montreal, for example," said Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon.

Some, including the opposition at city hall, have criticized the city for dragging its heels on the project.

While Ensemble Montreal said it applauds the initiative to "get everyone around the same table" but laments the fact that "the overall vision and investments are still lacking for the development of the Hippodrome six years after the signing of the agreement." said Saint-Laurent borough mayor Alan DeSousa.

Boivin addressed the criticism by saying the foundation has been laid.

"There are still a lot of questions. More questions than there are answers, and that's our job," he said. "But don't assume that four or five years were lost, much to the contrary. Now, we can talk about accelerating it. We could not have spoken about accelerating it a couple of years ago before the groundwork was done."

The working group is expected to take six to eight months to lay out its plans for the site. 

With files from Noovo.Info Top Stories

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