Save Griffintown!

Canada Post Plant Project is: Les Bassins du Nouveau-Havre by ajkandy
November 12, 2008, 4:15 pm
Filed under: Events, griffintown, news

Officially launched today, the proposed project, put forth by Canada Lands Company and the Montreal Harbour Commission, gets an official name, “Les Bassins du Nouveau Havre,” and a spiffy blue website with a video overview of the proposed design. Most of the good stuff is in PDFs (typical, sigh). But the project looks decent and very interesting. The public can swing by the site (dates given in previous post) to check out the model and other materials.

Although the URL, “,” made one friend of mine think “Lesbassins? Lesbian assassins? Did they have this run by an English translator at all?”

Judging by the overview PDF (2 MB) which contains numerous egregiously bad typos and francisms, apparently they didn’t hire an English translator or copyeditor at all but just decided to wing it. (Governments! Corporations! Design firms and other agencies! I can do this for you. My rates are not expensive. Is it really worth it to look illiterate?)

Phyllis Lambert & Experts Holding Press Conference on Griffintown Right Now by ajkandy
April 15, 2008, 10:45 am
Filed under: Committee for Sustainable Redevelopment, Events, griffintown, media, news

From PR Newswire — Today’s press conference involving the Committee for the Sustainable Redevelopment of Griffintown, Phyllis Lambert and several architecture and urban planning experts. Happening NOW.


Montreal, April 14, 2008 — Phyllis Lambert and Gérard Beaudet, well known for their articulate positions on the future of Montréal, will be speaking tomorrow at a press conference organized by the Committee for the Sustainable Redevelopment of Griffintown (CSRG).

Both experts will be voicing their opposition to the hasty public consultation process put in place by the Southwest Borough (Arrondissement du Sud-Ouest) to study the Special Planning Program (SPP) which could affect a major sector of Griffintown. Phyllis Lambert and Gérard Beaudet deplore the municipal authorities’ lack of vision and agree that the SPP should be referred to the Office de consultation publique de Montréal (OCPM).

Vicente Perez, from the Coalition de la Petite Bourgogne, will also be present and Christopher Gobeil, spokesperson for CSRG, will preside over the Press Conference. A number of representatives from the professional associations, among them André Bourassa, president of the Québec Order of Architectes, will be in attendance.

Date: Tuesday, April 15 2008, 11am

Place: Darling Foundry, 745 Ottawa Street, Montréal

For more detailed information, please write to or call (514) 875-7644.


The press release will be available on the CSRG website immediately following the press conference.


Urban Planners Discuss Griffintown, Feb. 12th by ajkandy
January 31, 2008, 11:08 pm
Filed under: Concordia, Events, Little Burgundy, UQAM, Urbanism

by A.J. Kandy

Residents, community activists and urban planning geeks™ are getting an early Valentine from the Little Burgundy Coalition, who are holding a public discussion on the Projet Griffintown issue for Tuesday, February 12th at the Centre-Culturel Georges-Vanier, on Workman near Charlevoix.

Urbanism professors Pierre Gauthier from Concordia and David Hanna from UQAM will be discussing the project with members of the Coalition and the community at a special meeting. Members of the public are welcome, but be aware that seating may be limited. (This isn’t an official public consultation — stay tuned for details on that schedule.) It’s in the morning, so ouch, but we’re both making time to be there — this matters.

February 12th, from 9AM-noon
Centre Culturel Georges-Vanier (2nd floor)
2450 rue Workman

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Public consultation at ETS tomorrow at 5:30pm by ajkandy
January 22, 2008, 12:55 am
Filed under: consultations, Devimco, ETS, Events, griffintown

A public consultation organized by RESO, the Regroupement économique et social du Sud-Ouest, and assisted by the Centre de consultation et de concertation, is being held Wednesday, January 23rd from 5:30 – 9:00 pm at the École de technologie supérieure, Amphithéâtre A-1150, 1100 Notre-Dame Ouest. (map)

There will be four discussion workshops:

  • Workshop 1: culture, heritage, tourism/recreation, design and architecture;
  • Workshop 2: employment and business opportunities;
  • Workshop 3: transportation and traffic;
  • Workshop 4: living spaces, urban space planning, public spaces and neighborhood services

We’ll be there covering as many workshops as we can.

To participate, indicate your choice of workshop and get in touch with Rachel Desrochers at 514-606-5884, or email her at Places are limited, so get in while the getting’s good.

Save Griffintown Presentation at Indyish, Jan 25th! by ajkandy
January 15, 2008, 12:31 pm
Filed under: Events, griffintown, indyish, Live Presentations, Urbanism

Check out our new, expanded-and-updated presentation at the Indyish City Mess, a grouping of indie artists, musicians and urbanists (is there such as a thing as an indie urbanist? I guess we count). The goal is to explore “The City” through music, spoken word, film, photography and presentations.

The event starts at 9:00 pm and features music by Lake of Stew, Charlotte Cornfield and Geoff Faribault, spoken word pieces by Alison Louder and Simon Schlesinger, presentations by yourselves truly on Griffintown, and Joel Thibert on Place D’Armes; films and photos.

The shindig is emceed by the hilarious Christine Ghawi and Dan Jeanotte of Uncalled For Improv. There will be door prizes provided by Nightwood Band, and an all-night dance party afterwards with DJ Afrokats.

Event details on Facebook

Friday, January 25th, 9:00pm until 3:00am
Studio 300
409 St-Francois-Xavier
Montreal, QC

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Register by 5pm for the URBA conference at ETS, presentation by Devimco’s Serge Goulet by ajkandy
January 9, 2008, 1:50 pm
Filed under: Devimco, ETS, Events, griffintown, Uncategorized

File this one under out-of-the-loop, but I have only now heard that there’s an urbanism conference happening today at the Ecole de Technologie Superieure (corner of Peel and Notre-Dame), where Devimco president Serge Goulet will be presenting information about the Village Griffintown project. Attendance is so high they’ve had to move it into a larger auditorium. The presentation starts at 5:30pm and if you’re interested, you need to get down to the ETS and register before 5pm.

Apparently the Centre de concertation already had a discussion group at the school yesterday (Tuesday January 8th); it seems that the ETS is getting a Devimco-funded chair in sustainable development out of the deal, plus the opportunity to use the project as a “living laboratory” for new building technologies and sustainability practices.

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End-of-the-year news update by ajkandy
December 31, 2007, 1:42 am
Filed under: developers, Devimco, Events, news

Welcome Gazette readers, and anyone who’s come from Spacing Montreal or Urbanphoto!

First off, a little background on our “activism.” We’re mostly professionals or students who either live in the area, or are concerned about the impact on the neighborhood for several different reasons. We’re not full-time activists — that term has come to be equated with ‘troublemaker’ in the corporate media so let me de-spin this a little bit.

None of us are opposed to development, per se, whatsoever. We’re not the sort of knee-jerk anti-gentrification types that have made the headlines before; I think all of us recognize the fact that gentrification, done properly, is actually a boon to neighborhoods, particularly in the context of intentionally mixed-income planning.

What are we concerned about? The environmental impact, the urban fabric, the street grid, issues of scale and timing, proper balance of retail and residential space, the long-term future of the project in a potentially low-energy future, protection of existing homeowners’ rights and space, and heritage and architectural issues.

At the meeting Steve Faguy attended, we essentially were trading notes; no one person seemed to have a clear picture of the whole project. Besides what we’ve read in the paper or online, specifics were hard to come by, and everyone had a different piece of the puzzle, therefore it was an opportunity to confirm or debunk rumors.

John Bradley, a local SSSS worker whose job is to coordinate issues between citizens’ groups and developers, and to work on nonprofit housing projects such as the still-projected reuse of the Canada Post sorting plant, was extremely helpful in pointing out who the various stakeholders in the project were and to provide a good deal of clarification. He provided the excellent example of the community organization in the Pointe that came up with its own urbanism plan for the Alstom Yards site, still under discussion at the moment; I’m not sure there’s enough of a critical mass in Griffintown to get something similar together yet.

Representatives of Devimco — namely, Luc Ouimet of “Le centre de consultation et de concertation,” and George Bossé, at one point the former mayor of Verdun among many other things — recently had a meeting with a community group in Pointe Saint Charles to discuss the impact of the Village Griffintown project; Chris Erb, a writer for Spacing Montreal and a Griffintown resident, attended on our behalf. (Apparently, the community group was happy to have us there, but Devimco weren’t entirely pleased, nor aware that anyone lived in Griffintown except for the heritage townhouses on de la Montagne…)

While Devimco maintains there are only 47 homeowners in the footprint of the development, what this fails to take into account is a larger number of people who rent — particularly live/work commercial lofts. We’re still not sure how many, if any, spaces will be dedicated to the rental market or if this will be up to individual property owners to decide.

That said, we were pleased to hear Devimco state the following:

The bulk of the space in the development is aimed at residential use; they claim only 4% will be given over to large-surface retailers, 6% to smaller boutiques and 8% to smaller and mixed-use retail. Wal-Mart is not going to be a tenant in this property; nearly every community group in the area is opposed to it.

The two largest “superblocks” in the current development seem to have big-box stores at their cores, surrounded by medium and small spaces. It remains to be seen how this development will address the streetscape properly, if at all, but the rough diagrams and renderings would seem to have boutiques facing the street, not the interior of a mall-like structure.

The plan aims to bring 3860 housing units to the area (to complement the 1500 other new units that have been added recently with the Terrasses Windsor, ETS student residences, Lowney Lofts and Redpath Lofts), with a split of 585 student residences, 927 senior residences, 472 affordable housing units, 437 subsidized housing units, and 1439 medium-to-high-end condos.

The project aims to meet Canada Green Building Council LEED standards. This is quite a positive aim, as we’re not aware of any LEED buildings or projects in the downtown area. There’s also plans afoot to work closely with the ETS to come up with unique environmental solutions for the project.

There will be 600,000 square feet given to 12 parks and public spaces, but the ownership of these is not entirely clear. (Also, given the city’s penchant for calling a 20-square-foot patch of grass a “park,” I’m not sure how serious that is).

Buildings along the canal will be limited to 6-8 stories, similar to existing condo projects west of the Atwater Market.

Infrastructure costs will be split between the city and Devimco; the developer will split the cost of above-ground, while the city pays for everything underground.

What we haven’t seen addressed so far and we’re keen on seeing developed:

Is there space for children’s playgrounds and sports/recreational facilities? If not, are there adequate facilities nearby? (Some of us think it a desecration of former church grounds to think of the former St. Ann’s site as a mere park.)

Is this proposed Griffintown museum, to be placed on land adjacent to the St. Ann’s site, actually the former Art Deco comfort station, now on Wellington near the bottom of Mountain? I.e. do they really want to reuse a former public bathroom for this? The drawing certainly makes it look like the building in question.

How realistic is this tramway idea? If it doesn’t come to fruition, can a proper bus terminus be integrated into the design?

What rights do renting residents have?

Right now, Devimco have stated they’re leaving the development of the residential buildings up to other condo builders. In short, that means the designs seen in the renderings could be completely meaningless. As they look a good deal like generic Vancouver condo towers and nothing at all like Montreal residential neighborhoods — isn’t this an opportunity for firms to compete with better designs than skeletal towers clad in differently-coloured brick to provide the illusion that the building is not, in fact, a simple box? (More than one person who’s seen the existing renderings has noted its similarity to both Vancouver and Denver, which doesn’t bode well.)