Save Griffintown!


Reminder: Public Consultation continues tonight (in 15 minutes…go go go!) by ajkandy
February 27, 2008, 6:52 pm
Filed under: Committee for Sustainable Redevelopment, consultations, Devimco, ETS

Forgive me for not posting this earlier, but Real Life intervenes sometimes.

The question-and-answer phase of the public consultations on Griffintown continues this evening (in 15 minutes from now, actually) down at the ETS, corner of Peel and Notre-Dame. I was at the 2nd night, this time entirely devoted to continuing the questions from the public. I’ll write up a fuller report of those activities later.

People from the Committee for the Sustainable Redevelopment of Griffintown will be there this evening — it was another practically full house last night and promises to be again tonight. If you have questions for the City and for Devimco, you can sign up at the door. There will likely be another supplementary night of questions if there’s enough people signed up.

After that, individuals and organizations can present comments and briefs stating their case to the borough committee on March 10th.



Architects: Dismantle and retool the suburbs, car culture is dead by ajkandy
February 22, 2008, 9:20 am
Filed under: Carfree Cities, climate change, economics, news, peak oil

by A.J. Kandy

Henry Aubin, writing in The Gazette, covers an interesting article from the Urban Land Institute. At least one firm echoed the feelings of many when they said that, if given $1 trillion to play with, they’d spend it de-automobilizing North America:

“We would spend less time fixing and more time dismantling America’s infrastructure,” say Dan Wood and Amale Andraos, of WORK Architecture in New York. “The 50-year suburban experiment in car culture is untenable in the face of climate change and peak oil.”

They would spend the money on, among other things, a “study of the suburbs to identify those that can be densified as new cities and those that can be returned to farmland.” They foresee a day when energy costs make long-distance food transport very costly, and more food will have to be locally grown.

That day might come sooner rather than later — most oil geologists believe that the “peak” in peak oil is now; we’re now going down the jagged, uneven slope of depletion. By 2012-2019 (when the Devimco project is due to be finished) spot shortages — or longer outages — in the supply of fossil fuels will start to be commonplace. Consider this graph, “The Growing Gap,” which I adapted from a recent ExxonMobil annual report, comparing diminished future discovery with escalating demand (production). I placed the estimated completion date of Projet Griffintown on the timeline, for comparison.

ExxonMobil Graph - Growing Gap between discoveries and demand

Seeing as how we’re not going to have the same one-time bonanza of fossil fuel energy going into the 2nd half of the 21st century, it’s a project we should have started on yesterday. (Places like Thornhill, ON will be the first to go — if you’re not already on a farm, that is.)

A simpler thing that almost all cities with dead areas / downtowns can do is change their zoning codes and tax codes. It should be cheaper to build in the middle of cities (encouraging infill and density), and more expensive to build far-flung exurbs which require enormous infrastructure outlays for very little density in return. Encouraging mixed-use, dense neighborhoods is the smartest thing any city can do right now; emphasis on neighborhood, not “Delta City.”



News Roundup by ajkandy
February 21, 2008, 2:06 pm
Filed under: blogosphere, news, op-ed

The ever-excellent Spacing Montreal posts another roundup of recent news articles and op-ed on Griffintown.

La Presse’s Sara Champagne covers the tiff between Devimco and rival promoter Ronald Hakim, who wants to put in a pair of 60-storey (!) towers as part of his “medical tourism” complex. (Despite the probability that giant towers would trash the city’s own urbanism masterplan which dictate clear views between the Mountain and the river, one has to concede the point that other developers who had plans submitted according to the proper process are getting short shrift here.) Le Devoir’s Jeanne Corriveau also covers this story (registered users only).


La Presse’s columnist Rima Elkouri goes for tea at Masala on Wellington with Dinu Bumbaru of Heritage Montreal, who discusses his organization’s “approval, with caveats” of redeveloping the Griffintown area; she notes how the proper review process has been “short-circuited” and how the political leadership has abdicated its responsibilities; in fact the city’s own urbanism department has been disbanded and it seems that private promoters are doing this work, obviously to their own benefit.

Comments Off on News Roundup


McGill’s Robert Mellin: Mapping Griffintown’s Future by ajkandy
February 21, 2008, 1:47 pm
Filed under: blogosphere, Committee for Sustainable Redevelopment, mcgill

Award-winning McGill Associate Professor of Architecture Robert Mellin writes a thoughtful guest post about keeping Griffintown semi-industrialized for the post-oil future, over at the “official” committee blog, CSR Griffintown. Check it out.

Comments Off on McGill’s Robert Mellin: Mapping Griffintown’s Future


Public Consultation is tonight: 7pm at the ÉTS by steph
February 21, 2008, 8:16 am
Filed under: griffintown | Tags: , ,

by Steph Troeth

The long-awaited first public consultation for Projet Griffintown begins tonight at 7pm, at L’École de technologie supérieure at the corner of Notre-Dame and Peel streets. Being present is a statement in itself — that you care about the future of Montréal.

CSR Griffintown has posted some background material and documents that might interest you. Otherwise, you will also find links to news articles in our archives.

Speaking of news: the free newspaper Métro in Montréal published an article on Griffintown just this Monday (Feb 18). I’ve tried in vain to hunt down an online archive. If you happen to find it, please leave us a comment. Thanks Patrick!

Hope to see you at the ÉTS tonight.



Audio from last week’s interview on 940 News by ajkandy
February 20, 2008, 6:27 pm
Filed under: audio, interviews, media

by AJ Kandy

Here’s the MP3 of the interview with yours truly and Chris Gobeil. (I never realized I said “it’s like” and “you know” so much. Note to self.)

news940interview_final.mp3

Comments Off on Audio from last week’s interview on 940 News


The official CSR Griffintown site is live by ajkandy
February 20, 2008, 5:57 pm
Filed under: Committee for Sustainable Redevelopment

by A.J. Kandy

Purely because we’ve been covering the Griffintown project for so long now — since last September — this site has become a top hit for people searching for information on the project.

It’s purely a personal blog, shared by two people with an abiding interest in urbanism. However, I hasten to add that whatever is published here, and the snark with which it is occasionally presented, is strictly ours and ours alone.

Some of you who’ve been following the story, both here and via Spacing Montreal, have heard of this new Committee for the Sustainable Redevelopment of Griffintown. It’s an organization of Griffintown residents and people from neighboring boroughs who are pooling their expertise in order to make their voices heard, and to aim for a more positive outcome than the one planned by the City and Devimco.

If you’d like more information on the Committee or to get involved, check out csrgriffintown.wordpress.com. You’ll see more “official” postings there about the group, activities, information, press releases, and so on.

Meanwhile, back to posting here 🙂

Full disclosure: I’m a member of CSR Griffintown, but Steph, my co-author, is not.

Comments Off on The official CSR Griffintown site is live


James Howard Kunstler + Urban Issues on CBC’s Sunday Edition by ajkandy
February 17, 2008, 10:40 am
Filed under: James Howard Kunstler, media, Urbanism

by A.J. Kandy

Tuned in to the CBC this morning to catch the last part of an interview with urbanist/author/gadfly James Howard Kunstler, on an episode of Sunday Edition devoted to exploring city issues. Kunstler brought up his greatest hits — peak oil, urban vs. suburban design, how we’re going to have to live in the future, how people confuse technology with energy. His new novel, The World Made By Hand, about life in Upstate New York in a post-oil future, is now shipping.

Also featured: an interview with the 30-year mayor of Mississauga (who frankly sounded occasionally clueless about the issues the interviewer brought up) touting the fact that dense condo towers seemed to be desirable in her city, vs decades of single-family-home suburban sprawl. She did make the emininently sensible claim (echoing Kunstler, albeit inadvertently) that the federal government needs to reinvest in passenger rail in a big way.

I’m not sure when it’ll be rebroadcast, but the show should be available as a podcast soon here.

Comments Off on James Howard Kunstler + Urban Issues on CBC’s Sunday Edition


Interviews and news by steph

by Steph Troeth

The McGill Daily has published a series of stories on Griffintown in their Housing special issue:

Flavie Halais from The Link, Concordia’s independent newspaper, reported on the first meeting of the Committee for the Sustainable Redevelopment of Griffintown in her article “Taking Back Griffintown.

And just to emphasise that we have things to worry about, La Presse describes the new plans for development as a big business haven.

Comments Off on Interviews and news


Notes from the Little Burgundy Coalition subcommittee meeting by steph

by Steph Troeth

Two university experts on urbanism, Pierre Gauthier of Concordia University and David Hanna of UQAM, spoke to members of the Little Burgundy Coalition meeting this morning on Projet Griffintown. The Subcommittee for Housing, Environment and Security also invited Griffintown residents and other interested parties to observe the proceedings.

Pierre Gauthier enlightened us with the history of street design in the ancient neighbourhoods of Montreal – in particular, the morphology of streets in Griffintown. David Hanna shared his understanding of how the Devimco plan had progressed from the initial commercial-heavy project to one that gives more weight to residential density. Both experts were open about their discomforts and skepticism with regards to the project. Pierre Gauthier periodically expressed his concerns that the footprints of the commercial blocks will be twice the size of those on Sainte-Catherine and the car-orientedness of the plans. Amongst other things, David Hanna discussed the implications of having the proposed tramway skirt the downtown area in a “U” from Peel down to Wellington then upwards to Berri-UQAM – why not then complete the loop and make the tramway a ring?

Discussion also ensued on the inappropriateness of the designated commercial area according to the current Devimco plan; the widening of Wellington would merely separate the southernmost complexes from the rest of the proposed development area. The contradiction in vision for this project is not lost on the members in attendance: here we have plans that are supposed to revitalise an important area of the island that is getting the same treatment and ideology as “downtown” Montreal, yet we are trying to entice suburbanites with cars.

What struck me today was that all the questions raised were not new. They are the same questions everyone is asking everywhere: what is the real reason for widening the roads, when there is no justified necessity? Why aren’t there any schools and spaces for families with children? Are the tall buildings justified? Is this project taken into a cohesive vision with neighbouring developments for the Bonaventure Freeway, the Canada Post and other surrounding projects? I asked David Hanna if the results of studies done to justify the population growth in that area that can support the commerce is available to the public, and he confirmed that this information is completely private: only the City has seen it. He went on to say the clues lie in the odd details of the plan: the drastic change in streets, the possibility of converting of Rue Ottawa as an entranceway for trucks, the tramway with a route that does not make sense.

David Hanna is pessimistic that the project could be stopped, and believed the best thing we could do is to change the face of the project. Our energies should be directed at ensuring this project is kept under very close watch, so that nothing goes out of hand.

One thing that has been nagging me constantly throughout our following of Projet Griffintown: where is the rest of Montreal? Putting aside for the moment, big-picture issues such as lack of vision for sustainable development, or serious consideration to fostering a real community in Griffintown – Montrealers seem to be sleeping through this issue, while those of us living in the Southwest Borough are being robbed of our rights as citizens when we blinked at the wrong time. One day, Montreal will wake up and find something resembling the size of Fairview Pointe-Claire right on its doorstep – what then? The fact that information is not readily available is almost as bad as the fact that Montreal citizens are not collectively demanding it as they should. The City has managed to slide this issue under our collective noses – a project that is envisioned to become a complete southern extension of downtown Montreal! So why isn’t the average Montrealer demanding to know what their taxes are going to? This is one serious case of “somebody else’s problem” that Montrealers will deeply regret if we don’t wake up and demand the truth – now.