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A new avant-garde neighbourhood by 2017
Article mis en ligne le jeudi 1er novembre 2012

Photo: Sarah Geledi

Advisory committee members Nik Luka, a McGill University professor at the School of Urban Planning, and Florence Junca-Adenot, a UQAM urban studies professor, joined borough mayor Michael Applebaum on the former racetrack site to discuss future plans for the massive Hippodrome Project.

Michael Applebaum and Gérald Tremblay unveiled the components of the Hippodrome Project, an ambitious five-year plan to create a new inclusive model community on the former racetrack site.

The project’s main goal is to transform the former Blue Bonnets site into a world-class neighbourhood environment never before seen in North America, while incorporating the best practices of sustainable development, urban design and community participation.

“This is a city within a city,” said CDN-NDG Mayor Michael Applebaum during a press conference. “At the end of all of the construction, there will be 20,000 new residents in the sector.”

The Hippodrome Project on the currently vacant site, roughly the size of 60 football fields, has a development potential of 5,000 to 8,000 housing units. City of Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay gave assurances that at least 15 per cent of the units would be dedicated to social housing and made a point of insisting on the importance of family-oriented units. Applebaum talked about plans to incorporate schools, community centres and a police station, as well as a strong green presence.

Drawing from projects already underway in Europe such as Stockholm’s Hammarby and Amsterdam’s GWL-Terrein, the city is envisioning a new neighbourhood featuring the latest innovations in urban design, green architecture and ecological management. “It is important that this neighbourhood reflect our talent and Montreal’s UNESCO City of Design title,” added Tremblay.

The site is closed in by railroads, the Décarie expressway and heavily congested Jean-Talon, which is why the mayor said they are counting on public transit. “We’ll do exactly what we did when U2 held the massive concert that 80,000 people attended. We already have two metro stations near the site (Namur and De La Savane) and we also have a tramway project in mind.”

Projet Montréal opposition councillor Peter McQueen approves of the project’s green strategy. “That’s exactly the way we want to go - to completely base the development there on transit usage and active transport. If they continue down that vein, then it’s okay.” He proposes augmenting social housing to at least 20 per cent and beginning transit development right away.

In an unprecedented situation, the Quebec government has ceded the land to the city free of charge, in exchange for a 50-50 share on revenue generated from land sales. “This is a win-win situation for the City of Montreal and the provincial government,” said Applebaum.

“We will start to sell off pieces of land by 2017, ensuring that we have green spaces, community centres, social and affordable housing,” added the borough mayor. “Property values will increase over time and for that reason the provincial government will receive more money than expected and we’ll be able to use that money to invest in infrastructure and public transit.”

The process, which is set to begin this fall, will be formulated over a five-year period with five phases: mobilization of citizens and experts; an international urban design competition; development of the master plan; consultation meetings by the Office de consultation publique de Montréal (OCPM); and adoption of the master plan in the winter of 2016.

Because community participation is actively encouraged, the OCPM will conduct public hearings at each step of the planning process. The city invites residents and owners of neighbouring properties, as well as civic/social organizations, to help delineate this concept via its web site -

[ Sarah Geledi ]

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