Montreal

Pointe-Claire residents decry city's plan to set height limits on new buildings in the village

Residents want Pointe-Claire Village to stay the way it is. The city has proposed banning buildings higher than two storey on all but nine lots in the village. Residents say that's not good enough.

Frustrated residents say plan doesn't go far enough

Deborah Fairchild said lives close enough to Pointe-Claire Village that she can walk there. She doesn't want to see three-storey tall buildings constructed there. (CBC)

Residents of a West Island suburb don't want buildings getting any taller along the shore of Lake Saint-Louis.

They want their historic Pointe-Claire Village to remain free of high-rise condos. For the most part, elected officials agree. The city has proposed banning buildings higher than two storey on all but nine lots in the village.

The city says those nine lots will be allowed a third floor if that floor is set back from the second and built to promote "commercial vitality and residential projects."

That proposed exemption had citizens furious during a public meeting Tuesday evening as, one by one, they took the microphone to voice their frustration. So many showed up to the meeting that some were turned away at the door.

"Our position is that we think the entire village should be kept at two storeys so that we can maintain its character," said Andrew Swidzinski, vice president of the Pointe-Claire Heritage Society.

Deborah Fairchild said three-storey buildings are unwelcome and the mayor isn't listening.

"The consensus is very, very clear, that people do not want gentrification," she said. 

"They don't want three-storey buildings. They don't want another downtown. They want to keep the character of the village and preserve it as the beautiful place that it is with the open spaces and to preserve the businesses and economy that are already there."

Tuesday night's public meeting was brimming with angry citizens who loudly applauded their fellow for speaking out against the height-restriction proposal. (CBC)

Density is the future, mayor says

This discussion has been dragging on for a number of years as the city looks to amend its village code — a series of rules aimed at preserving various heritage sites by regulating the appearance of buildings, land subdivisions and new construction.

The city has previously suggested setting the cap at six storeys, but residents quickly shot that down — not wanting the quiet, timeworn feel of the village to be overtaken by towering complexes.

The newly proposed limit of two storeys on all but nine buildings will affect Lakeshore Drive as well as the properties on Cartier Avenue, south of Lanthier Avenue. Buildings in the area will be limited to 12 metres, no matter if they are two or three storeys. 

The red indicates the area that would be limited to two storeys while the blue shows which lots would be allowed to construct three storey buildings. (Pointe-Claire)

In a city statement issued Tuesday, Mayor John Belvedere said the proposed changes are intended to make the village "a destination of choice for all."

After the meeting, he said to keep the village vital, it can't be frozen in time.

"The village did not get to where it is today without change. We need to think of the future and the future is, you know, densification," he said.

All the buildings would have commercial on the ground floor, he said, meaning there can only be so many residential units on the upper floors given the limited number of storeys.

He said the city has been working closely with citizens, ensuring green spaces are preserved while allowing the village to grow economically.

"Right now, the village is busy. We have put a lot of time and energy into the village," he said.

"I think anybody is allergic to change. I accept that. I understand that. It's a scary thing, change. But if you don't change, you maintain the status quo, you actually go backward."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Isaac Olson has been a Montreal-area journalist for more than a decade. Follow him on Twitter: @Isaac_J_Olson

with files from Simon Nakonechny

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