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District Meeting: Proposed Marc Chagall Town Houses and more

DISTRICT 2 COUNCIL MEETING WEDNESDAY, DEC. 5, 2007 Côte Saint-Luc City Hall Council Chamber

1. Introduction

More than 50 residents were in attendance. Representing the city were Councillors Mike Cohen and Steven Erdelyi, Director of Public Works and Urban Planning David Tordjman and Urban Planning Coordinator Christian Chiasson. Councillors Allan J. Levine and Ruth Kovac stayed for a few moments at the beginning. Councillor Cohen explained that he holds these meetings at least twice a year to provide constituents of District 2 with detailed updates on issues which affect them most.

2. Beth Chabad

Daniel Malka attended the meeting in his capacity as vice-president of the Beth Chabad Menachem Community Youth Centre, soon to be located at the corner of Marc Chagall Avenue and Kildare Road. Beth Chabad has been based at the Cavendish Mall since 2001. With the Mall’s grand redevelopment plans, Beth Chabad will need to vacate their premises soon. The Kildare Road site was rezoned to accommodate them many years ago. Construction began on the $5.8 million project last February and completion is expected by Rosh Hashanah. A total of $3.8 million has been raised so far, a figure which stands to improve since people can now see that work is proceeding at a good pace. When completed, the new facility will include a youth lounge, computer and teen fitness rooms, a cafeteria, library, kollel/study room, social hall, Sephardic and Ashkenazi synagogues and a men’s mikvah. Mr. Malka was asked a lot of questions about traffic. He indicated that during the week, the goal will be to have youth using the facilities. Services will take place each morning at 6:15 a.m. Most members will walk. Some 25 to 30 parking spots will be available on the grounds of the facility. Arrangement have been made with Bialik High School to use their large parking lot on weekends when there are simchas. In advance of the facility opening, the city’s traffic committee will evaluate t he new situation and recommend whatever action is necessary.

2. Proposed Town House Complex on Marc Chagall Ave.

Developer Jerry Winikoff and architect Stephen Rotman were on hand representing a proposed new 21 unit condominium town house complex on Marc Chagall Avenue, directly across the street from the snow dump. Councillor Cohen, when asked why this meeting was being held in mid-December when many people are in Florida, explained that he is not obliged to have such a gathering. However, when he found out thatthis project could go to council for first reading approval as early as December 10 he felt it was necessary for residents to get as many details as possible. Councillor Levine, who chairs the Planning Advisory Committee (PAC), noted that the land is presently zoned commercial. The PAC feels a town house complex would be a good fit for the area. David Tordjman went over the process the city must follow:

First Meeting That It is Placed on The Agenda
Notice of Motion
Waiving of Reading
Adoption of First Draft

The Following Meeting During the Next Month
Public Consultation
Adoption of Second Draft (following the meeting a public notice is filed requesting those in the concerned and contiguous zones if they want to sign register) If a certain amount of signatures are obtained, council must decide whether to pursue a referendum on the matter before the final version can be adopted. If the number of signatures are not required, council moves forward on the matter.

The Following Meeting
Final version can be adopted

It was requested that the first reading not occur in December, since many people would be away when a register would open. Councillor Cohen agreed that January would be a better time and he promised to take this back to council. Some others asked that the vote be delayed until mid-April when the Snowbirds are back in town. The developers wish to break ground by the end of the winter.
Mr. Winikoff and Mr. Rotman brought drawings of the project with them. All of the units will have four bedrooms. Parking will be underground, with two spots per home. There will also be visitor’s parking.
Some residents expressed concern that the project is being built so close to high tension Hydro wires. While Mr. Winikoff refuted any studies that these wires pose a danger, several of the residents from nearby condos noted that they too are already living in the same proximity to these wires.
How much will the units cost? About $400,000 to $490,000 each.
How will this project impact traffic? Some people indicated –and correctly so – that traffic on Marc Chagall is already bad. Why add to it? But others recognized that this type of project is the lesser of possible other evils which could bring in even more cars.
Councillor Cohen reminded residents that not only is the land zoned for a strip mall, but there has even been some interest by parties to build one there. And why not? There is a 1,000 student school, a soon-to-be erected community centre/synagogue and four apartment condos next door. Add to that the town houses on Merrimac, condos on Rembrandt, homes on Ilan Ramon, apartments on Kildare Road and Sir Walter Scott, condos on Mackle and apartments on Cavendish. A strip mall might do quite well. Do we want a strip mall on Marc Chagall? The answer is no. How do we prevent this from occurring? Moving forward with a town house project could be a good option. A side note to this development: plans call for a proper pathway and a new sign to be created for Isadore Goldberg Park. The entrance is presently located via three apartment buildings on Kildare Road.
There was also some question about the city owned land next to where this development would occur. History will note that the city already rejected a proposal to build a highrise apartment building there. That remains the city’s position. Can we grass over that land and make it into a park? That is certainly a possibility. Would this town house complex lessen the likelihood that development will ever occur on the city owned land? Possibly.

3. Bialik Construction

Renovations to Bialik High School, which began in June, are expected to be completed very soon. This is part of a two-phase expansion and renovation of Bialik. Phase I consists of the reconfiguration and renovation of the existing cafeteria and lunchroom located on the basement level, the addition of 9,000 square feet of new construction for new classrooms and a relocated Art Studio, a new site enclosure and renovation of the main entrance and of the landscaping at the circular driveway and toward the entrance. Phase II will involve the conversion of the Metteralin Hall into a 264 seat auditorium, the renovation of the front face of the Mettarlin Hall to introduce additional glazing, the addition of a 6,930 square foot gymnasium and the addition of a new 2,900 square foot storage area to serve the new gymnasium and new auditorium. In addition to a Student Traffic Committee, which was launched last year, Mr. Tordjman and Traffic Engineer Charles Senekal have been meeting with the Bialik administration to look at enacting other measures to deal with the traffic flow and infractions. Police Station 9 have enacted a number of traffic ticket blitzs in the past year. This is an action item we will continue to follow closely.

4. Repaving of Rembrandt and Merrimac

As part of its street and sidewalk improvement program the city repaved Rembrandt Avenue in September. Residents were quite pleased with the work. It is hoped that Sir Walter Scott Avenue or Merrimac will be repaved in 2008.


5. The Marc Chagall Twin Towers

There was great curiosity concerning the status of the Twin Towers, two 17 storey condos which were supposed to be built at the corner of Marc Chagall near Mackle. The original project has been cancelled. While the zoning, established some 20 years ago, remains in place, so does a sales office shed. The city has issued a series of infractions to the owners in the hopes that the shed will be taken down. This is all that law allows us to do. Some residents wished to know whether there is any chance the current zoning of 17 storeys could be downgraded, possibly to nine. Mr. Tordjman said this is something the city is looking into, especially now that the construction permit has failed. There was also a request to see if the area could be grassed over and beautified. Our bylaws do require that the owners of vacant land keep it clean or they face fines. We will stay on top of them in this regard. It is interesting to note that the website for the project (www.lechagall.com) remains online.

6. Recycling in Buildings

Councillor Erderlyi, who co-chairs the Eco-Action Committee with Councillor Dida Berku, noted that plans are moving ahead to implement recycling in all of the city’s 138 buildings by next April. He also spoke about the Brown Bin Organic Waste Collection pilot project which is taking place in Districts 4 and 5. The city has a full-time individual on staff to deal with the recycling dossier. Her name is Orianna Familiar

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