Published July 30, 2008
Opponents asked for a change in the project to be further away from the wires, but an angry Winikoff said he would instead proceed with a strip mall, for which the land on the eastern limits of Côte St. Luc is already zoned.
“They’re full of s--t!” he told The Suburban three weeks ago. “ I’m not interested in talking to them. Their compromise — you know what their compromises are. Do what we want! Economically, I cannot do it. I have too many prospective tenants for a strip mall. I’ve received many calls — I’ll have that thing rented out in no time.”
Fast forward a couple of weeks, and thanks to lobbying by area councillor Mike Cohen and Mayor Anthony Housefather, the majority of council now supports the townhouse project as proposed.
Housefather said it was clear area residents prefer a townhouse project over a strip mall.
“Council always has to consider, as a first priority, what the neighbourhood wants, because those are the people most affected,” he said. “As a city, the priority is to have affordable housing for young families, which is lacking in Côte St. Luc, and this project will allow us to have that.”
“The fact is, if the town houses were turned down — a strip mall would have gone directly under those same wires,” Cohen said in his municipal blog. “I will not get into the debate about the Hydro wires except to say that no studies have been conclusive about their potential dangers.”
Councillor Dida Berku and Steven Erdelyi maintained their opposition to the townhouse project as proposed — both said they oppose a strip mall, as do many area residents, and support a rezoning to townhouses.
“I understand the will and the wishes of the residents of the neighbourhood,” Berku said. “[But] this particular project has houses, balconies and backyards of rowhouses built right into the Hydro servitude. I have no answer to date on queries I have made to the city and to Hydro as to whether balconies or patios are allowed in the Hydro servitude. I’m opposed to placing housing for young families that close to Hydro lines.... I would have liked the developer and the city to negotiate a little bit more.”
Erdelyi, who teaches high school science and has a biochemistry background, said he conducted extensive research on the power lines issue and is thinking of “safety first.
“I’ve seen data that has shown no conclusive evidence and data that has shown conclusive evidence,” he said. “What I’ve also noticed is the means by which the effect is still not 100 percent known. Some data has show that the harmful effects are caused by ionization of the air around the lines.”
Councillor Glenn Nashen changed his vote, saying that since no compromise townhouse project was offered, “we have to work with what is put forward to us as a possibility.” Nashen added that he also saw differing opinions on the effects of power lines, but said there have been advisories to be cautious in the case of toddlers.
“The municipality is not in a position to be able to make a judgment on electro magnetic fields,” he said, adding that there are no Hydro, Quebec or Canadian government advisories on EMFs. “The onus falls on the buyer.”
Councillor Allan Levine also changed his vote, and predicted future property owners will enjoy living in the area.