Vision for Montreal | A developer in the city center clears his heart

“A neighborhood on a human scale does not mean: no tricks. That means: do the tricks right,” Laurence Vincent launched at the beginning of his speech at the Metropolitan Montreal Chamber of Commerce (CCMM) strategic forum on major projects, which was held Friday morning.

Posted at 8:00am

Andre Dubucu

Andre Dubucu
The press

mme Vincent is president of the real estate company Prével, responsible for the construction of many housing projects in the central districts of Montreal. She is currently working on the construction of Esplanade Cartier, a subdivision with a potential of 2,000 homes at the foot of the Jacques-Cartier Bridge.

With this answer, she responded to Luc Rabouin, mayor of Plateau-Mont-Royal and responsible for economic development in the executive committee, who had preceded her on stage by praising the merits of “density on a human scale”.

“My municipality has one of the highest densities and there are no towers,” he replied to a question from Michel Leblanc, president and CEO of the CCMM, about de la Ville’s vision for the Brug-Bonaventure sector south-west of the center.

City and property developers, including Devimco, are at odds over the future of the sector. The administration of Valérie Plante proposes to build 4,000 homes there on an area of ​​2.3 square kilometers. Promoters see room for three times as much.

In the midst of the housing crisis, the gap between the two visions draws attention.

“Restriction Machines”

mme Vincent was on the podium of the Chamber of Commerce not to talk about Bridge-Bonaventure, but to explain the difficulties she is facing with the city council for her Esplanade Cartier project, east of downtown.

“Government agencies have become coercive machines,” she summed up.

For those who don’t know her, Vincent is the antithesis of the traditional image of the promoter, alpha male, who “bulldos” everything in his path to achieve his goal without worrying about the consequences.

“The Esplanade Cartier de Prével project is exemplary”, says Michel Leblanc: several consultations upstream, urban agriculture with vegetable gardens on the roofs, public square, social housing with the Y des femmes de Montréal, preservation of views of the Jacques-Cartier bridge, shared streets promoting active transportation and local businesses to revitalize Sainte-Catherine Street.


Illustration of part of the Esplanade Cartier project

Esplanade replaces Cartier, insured Mme Vincent, a wasteland, a heat island, that disfigured the southeastern entrance to the city.

“As I learn more about the features of your project and when I hear the city’s discourse on what urban development should be, I tell myself that the city must do everything it can to promote its realization”, remarked Mr Leblanc. , during the discussion with M .me Vincent following his speech.

The truth would be very different, we understand the words of vincent.

† [Bien] that we have been consulting for almost three years and that the Public Consultation Bureau has spoken out in favor of the heights and the project presented, the city’s special urban planning program does not even go in that direction: we cut the heights, we reduced the floor areas, which we limit it to 750 square meters,” she reminded the audience.

This limitation of floor space in the Faubourgs sector is a saga in itself, of which: The press has already reported.

The first three phases of Esplanade Cartier were launched respecting the guidelines of the zoning plan. Construction cost inflation is now jeopardizing the project’s profitability, prompting Prével to apply for zoning exemptions for the last three phases.

Annoying process

The situation therefore forces Prével to return to the city to approve the zoning exemptions for the final phases of his Esplanade Cartier project, a process that could lead to a referendum at the request of the citizens. .

Aside from the referendum risk, the process of specific projects to construct, modify or occupy a building is tedious.

“We are sent to the city planning department, who sends us to engineering, who sends us back to the water department, who refers us to the fire department, who asks us to validate the permits, who waits after the process to… back to urban planning, to finally… not know who’s going to make the decision,” she argued in a tirade that received applause from the 300 in attendance.

Laurence Vincent was not satisfied with criticism; she came up with solutions. She proposes that the City appoint a project manager with decision-making powers who would have the task of guiding the promoter’s project through the municipal apparatus by encouraging the services to process the file carefully and efficiently.

In response to the housing crisis, she proposes that municipalities set annual housing start-up targets, which would encourage them to be proactive. “Currently, the developer is the only actor who has the burden of building new homes,” she said.

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