Open letter calls for Quebec government to step in on Royalmount project
Environmental and business groups raise concerns about impact mega mall will have on the city
Fifteen organizations have sent an open letter to the Quebec government asking it to intervene in the Royalmount project.
Construction on the $1.7 billion shopping and entertainment complex began weeks ago, but the authors of the letter say the Quebec government needs to "position itself on the issue" after consultations held by the developer, Carbonleo, did not go far enough.
The mega mall complex, set to be completed in 2022, will be located at the intersection of Highways 15 and 40, and will include restaurants, hotels, offices, stores and an entertainment district.
The signatories of the letter include the Quartier des spectacles Partnership, Greenpeace Canada, Équiterre, the Montreal regional environment council (CRE-Montréal), the Montreal Climate Coalition and the Montreal association of merchant's associations (ASDCM).
The letter said they are concerned about mobility in an already high-traffic area and what the project will mean for Montreal's commercial and cultural landscape.
Consultations were too little, too late
Several of the signatories were invited to consultations by Carbonleo, the developer of the Royalmount project, at the end of last summer. Citizen consultations were also held.
But some felt that the consultations were a "diversion" by the developer, instead of an open dialogue.
"The first thing they told us was that it wasn't a consultation on the whole project, but just on the residential part," said Christian Savard, the director of Vivre en Ville. "The commercial district, the one that will affect the dynamic of Montreal, wasn't up for discussion."
"In the end, the consultation, the openness of the developer wasn't real," Savard said.
The Quartier des spectacles Partnership said it's concerned there isn't enough demand to justify a second entertainment district.
"Ticket sales have not really changed over the years. It's going well, but it's not increasing," said Monique Simard, the president of the board for the Quartier des spectacles Partnership. "Isn't there a risk of undressing Paul to dress Jacques?"
She said that $200 million had recently been invested in the Quartier des spectacles by both the municipal and provincial governments.
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante opposed the project, after the city's urban-planning committee recommended suspending it until it can better meet the needs of the Montreal population.
"We believe that the consequences will be too harsh on the traffic, and on the businesses around, and on the whole of Montreal," Maeva Vilain, who sits on the committee, said at the time.
But because the project is located in the autonomous Town of Mount-Royal, the city of Montreal cannot intervene.
Developer fires back
The promoter for the project decried the "lies" and "misinformation" that were being spread about the project, citing the "enormous efforts" they've undertaken since the project was first announced.
"We have achieved exceptional social acceptability," said Claude Marcotte, the executive vice-president of Carbonleo. "There will always be people who will be against the project and we do not want to convince everyone. It's not our job to do it."
Marcotte said tens of millions of dollars were spent on architects and engineers, leading to an "eco-innovative" project that now includes a pedestrian bridge to De la Savane metro, as well as green spaces and green rooftops.
"It's an exceptional, extraordinary project. Montreal will be proud of it. It will let Montreal shine on the international stage," Marcotte said.
Chantal Rouleau, the minister responsible for Montreal and transport, said she would not comment on the project "for the time being."
Reporting by Radio-Canada's Romain Schué