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Kirkland residents come out against Merck site redevelopment

Residents in the West Island suburb have gathered twice as many signatures as needed to force a referendum on a proposed redevelopment at the former site of a pharmaceutical company.

Quartier Evolution project includes 800 condominiums, townhouses in Lacy Green area of Kirkland

The pharmaceutical company closed its Kirkland operation in 2013. (Google Maps)

Residents in the West Island suburb gathered twice as many signatures as needed to force a referendum Thursday on a proposed redevelopment at the former site of pharmaceutical company Merck.

The Quartier Evolution project would put 800 condominiums and townhouses in the Lacy Green area of Kirkland.

Benita Magliocco, who has lived in the area for 20 years and campaigned against the development, said residents aren't against redevelopment at the former Merck site, but simply oppose the current high-density proposal.

"We counted about 800 to 900 homes in the Lacy Green area and now you're doubling it in a small space of land," Magliocco said. 

"The density doesn't make any sense"

In order to trigger a referendum, 125 signatures from eligible voters were needed. A total of 325 were gathered.

Obligation to develop

Kirkland city council approved  the developer's plan for the former Merck site in December 2015.

Luciano Piciacchia, a Kirkland city councillor, told CBC Montreal's Daybreak that council would analyze what the votes will mean for the project in the coming weeks.

However, Piciacchia added that Thursday's turnout did not represent the majority of affected Kirkland residents because over 1,000 people were eligible to vote.

"Those aren't our only citizens, we've got a wider Kirkland to concern ourselves with, and we do have an obligation to do a property development of that area," he said.

Kirkland city council will meet on Monday to decide if they'll hold a referendum.

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