Save Griffintown!

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.

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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.

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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.

On News 940 radio with Natasha Hall today at noon by ajkandy
February 10, 2008, 10:36 am
Filed under: Committee for Sustainable Redevelopment, griffintown, interviews, media

by A.J. Kandy

Yours truly, along with Chris Gobeil of the Committee for the Sustainable Redevelopment of Griffintown, will be interviewed for News 940 AM’s new show What’s Up, Montreal? today between noon and 1pm. I’ll post a link to an audio file if/when it becomes available. The show is hosted by Natasha Hall, a Montreal Gazette contributing writer and winner of the News 940 “Talk Show Idol” contest.

It’s a call-in show, so take a minute or two to express your opinion. Do be polite and keep it on-topic. You can call in at the following numbers:

Local: 514-790-0006
Toll-free: 1-877-760-0006
Cell phone: #940 for Bell cell phone subscribers

You can also listen in via their website, Click on the ‘listen live’ link in the left-hand menu.

More news and op-ed by ajkandy
February 7, 2008, 11:58 am
Filed under: media, news, op-ed

by A.J. Kandy

The Gazette’s Jason Magder interviews Chris Gobeil and yours truly for a short piece on the need for alternative plans for Griffintown. He also reports on a proposal from an American company that specializes in medical tourism (wha?) to set up a private luxury hospital-spa-hotel at the eastern edge of the site.

Henry Aubin has another op-ed piece, Griffintown: We must do it right.

Official Details of the PPU and Consultations by ajkandy
February 7, 2008, 9:19 am
Filed under: consultations, griffintown, planning, Sud-Ouest

The City of Montreal’s Sud-Ouest Borough lays out information and the schedule for the public consultations on their Projet Griffintown page here. (in French only)

They’ve also released the preliminary Plan particulier d’urbanisme. You can get it from their page, but here’s a mirrored copy. (8.1 MB PDF, 67 pages).

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Griffintown News Roundup, Feb 6th by ajkandy
February 6, 2008, 9:39 am
Filed under: blogosphere, Devimco, griffintown, media, news, op-ed

La Presse:

University of Montreal professor, architect, urbanist and historian Jean-Claude Marsan writes an opinion piece: Montreal deserves better:

Le projet de Griffintown, mis de l’avant par le Groupe Devimco qui a réalisé le centre commercial Dix30 à Brossard, repose sur un concept abstrait, une idée importée, plus précisément de la Floride et de la Californie, lieu de naissance du Life Style Center. Ce nouveau modèle de centre commercial favorise un style de vie basé sur l’utilisation de l’automobile et la consommation globalisante, regroupant dans un même lieu la plupart des marques commerciales existantes en Amérique […] il demeure essentiellement un produit de banlieue dont il conserve toutes les caractéristiques. Nous sommes bien loin des «rues principales» d’arrondissements telles que celles du Plateau-Mont-Royal, de Côte-des-Neiges, Notre-Dame-de-Grâce ou d’Outremont, de ces artères commerciales qui s’avèrent des lieux de découverte, de socialisation et de convivialité.

The Gazette:

Reporter Jason Magder summarizes last night’s borough council public meeting:
Griffintown consultations open to everyone, borough promises

City columnist Henry Aubin points out the city’s contradictory aims in trying to relieve pollution and traffic congestion, while simultaneously pushing forward redevelopment projects that will collectively add something like 10,000 parking spaces, in How to get more people to live downtown without their cars.

Spacing Montreal:

Blogger and CBC Radio reporter Misha Warbanski has a piece on the air today, and blogged two pieces, one summarizing the borough council meeting, and another mentioning the Committee for Sustainable Redevelopment open brainstorming session this evening.