Save Griffintown!

Joseph Baker: Send Projet Griffintown back to the drawing board by ajkandy
March 25, 2008, 10:16 am
Filed under: op-ed

Joseph Baker, a past president of the Quebec Order of Architects and former director of Université Laval School of Architecture, established a community-focused architectural firm on Rue Barré to try to help Griffintown rebuild 30 years ago. Now, he’s appalled by what’s going through:

It is unfortunate that action had to wait 30 years […] Within comfortable distance of the city centre with its opportunities for employment and education, within walking distance of the Lachine canal and the Atwater market, Griffintown awaited a renaissance that did not depend on towers and big box stores.

How often must it be repeated that adequately dense development can be achieved without going higher than six or seven storeys, offering a variety of housing for families, singles and the elderly?

That is the kind of development that Griffintown needed. Montreal’s revised Plan d’urbanisme probably foresaw this type of development but it has been manipulated to allow a project with a totally different vision.

What was displayed at the public hearings in the Southwest borough was a project of an entirely different scale and nature… it presented a rather dated image, harking back to mega-projects of the 1960s like Cité Concordia that, had it been completed, would have destroyed the comfortable scale that Milton Park knows to this day. 

Baker goes on to mention that the process that led to the OCPM came from the Tremblay Commission report, which launched Hizzoner’s career in municipal politics; furthermore, he says that since the project is so large and impacts more than one borough, it falls into a Category 3 project which by law must go through an OCPM process; the borough alone isn’t competent to oversee something of this magnitude. 



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Libre-Opinion: Raphael Fischler by ajkandy
March 10, 2008, 3:58 pm
Filed under: op-ed

Not sure if I linked this Dec 17th Le Devoir op-ed from McGill urban planning professor Raphael Fischler, previously, but here it is.

To me, it seems as if an overwhelming majority of the city’s prominent architecture educators, architects and urban planners are against Devimco’s plan. That’s got to mean something.

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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.

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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.

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.

Henry Aubin: Tread carefully on Griffintown by ajkandy
January 17, 2008, 11:59 am
Filed under: media, op-ed

Gazette city columnist Henry Aubin returns to the topic of Griffintown in today’s opinion piece. According to Aubin, the pros include development of a very neglected area of town, a shot in the arm of over $1.3 billion; it would be Kyoto-friendly by reducing urban sprawl, encouraging rail transit development, and using LEED building standards.

The cons include a possible negative effect on Sainte Catherine Street’s retail and nightlife, “boring, semi-uniform architectural design” due to the fact there aren’t multiple firms involved, plus serious questions of fairness; patronage (George Bossé used to work for the mayor; standard review processes short-circuited on purpose; the possibility of expropriations freezing out not only homeowners and landowners but other developers. Plus there’s the site’s proximity to the yet-to-be-developed Canada Post site; the entire ensemble needs to be balanced carefully.

Full opinion piece at The Gazette.