This project has been in the hands of council, initially via the Planning Advisory Committee (PAC), for more than a year. Once the PAC gave its approval I held a special information meeting for residents of District 2 last December at City Hall. We had strong representation from the three highrise condominiums on Marc Chagall Avenue. By a wide majority they approved of the town house proposal, principally because the alternative would have been a strip shopping mall.
When we went back to council later that month we did not have a majority of votes to change the zoning. It was therefore delayed. During this time the developer, concerned that the town house proposal was not going to move forward, announced that he would proceed with a strip mall. I believed him, but others did not. Last month he put up a billboard inviting potential tenants to sign leases. He also published newspaper ads. Residents of the Marc Chagall Avenue highrise condos were up in arms. Last week I received a petition, signed by people residing mainly in those three buildings, against a strip mall. I explained to my constituents that I agreed with them – a strip mall was not an appropriate fit for this street.
I want to thank Mayor Anthony Housefather for his undying support on this issue and for the members of council who voted in favor of the zoning change. I realize some of them had concerns about the nearby Hydro wires. But the fact is, if the town houses were turned down – a strip mall would have gone directly under those same wires.
I will not get into the debate about the Hydro wires except to say that no studies have been conclusive about their potential dangers. Dr, Joe Schwarcz, a resident of Côte Saint-Luc and a highly respected scientist, had told members of council he does not for one moment agree with the Hydro wire argument.
This all being said, I look forward to moving the town house project forward. It will be a nice addition to a growing street which will soon include the Beth Chabad Community Centre. Bialik High School is currently working on phase two of its building expansion. As for the twin towers project at the corner of Marc Chagall and Mackle, I have no reason to believe anything will be happening on that spot anytime soon.
By putting a town house condominium project on Marc Chagall we are removing the threat of a strip mall, which has hung over us for years.