Residents and community groups gathered in Park Extension on Thursday evening to protest a planned luxury apartment project that they said will contribute to gentrification in the neighbourhood.

“The people in Park Ex deserve a lot better than not having their voice heard,” said organizer Joshua Singh.

Roughly 20 people came to the rally in front of the borough hall during a meeting of the urban planning committee to voice their displeasure with the project, which would be located across from the Parc Metro station. The development has not yet been approved by borough council.

The land was purchased by developer BSR Group last year and since then, many of the merchants who were tenants in the building already located there have left.

“Park Ex is an immigrant district, working class people and we want to keep our people living in Park Ex and not become a new Plateau-Mont-Royal,” said Andre Trepanier of the Park Extension Action Committee.

According to a 2013 Centraide study, Park Ex is among the poorest neighbourhoods in Canada but the community advocates said changes are coming. They pointed to the Universite de Montreal’s new Outremont campus, which is set to open next year, as an example.

“We feel we’ve been abandoned by the City of Montreal in the past,” said Trepanier. “We have a lack of social housing in the district, close to 900 families on the waiting list for low-income apartments.”

BSR Group manager Ron Basal said the project will benefit the neighbourhood.

“When we took possession of the building, we found druggies, junkies, syringes in the hallways, people were sleeping in the building,” he said. “I’m adding a big value to the city.”

Singh said any benefits will be felt by just the developer and not residents.

“It’s just greed and for years we’ve been fighting against any kind of huge developments,” he said.