Going to vote on May 8, the amendment’s catalyst is a project on Marc Chagall Ave., just south of Mackle Rd. where developers are erecting two 12-storey towers with a total of 306 dwellings and 446 parking spaces (402 underground). The new project is called Equinox Marc Chagall and it is going up alongside buildings of similar names like the Bellagio and Marquise.
Councillor Mike Cohen said the developers, Trantor Realty and Groupe Jadco, are aiming for a July 1, 2018 delivery of the first tower, meaning crews are working evenings and weekends to finish the project on time. If his proposed bylaw is approved, major construction activities will be restricted to Monday through Friday, no later than 7 p.m.
Cohen said the current noise bylaw, restricting work from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. during the week and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on the weekends, was designed to allow for occasional concerts and home projects, not round-the-clock, large-scale construction.
Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, first elected as a councillor in 1990, said he has not seen new construction development regularly working such extensive hours. The developers, he added, are taking advantage of the existing bylaw.
“Our amended bylaw will ensure that new construction will not take place in the abusive manner presently occurring,” Brownstein said.
As construction noise reverberates through neighbouring condos, neighbours have been contacting Cohen to denounce the din and challenge the city’s approval of a project, many say, that will bring hundreds of cars to a street ill-equipped for that level of traffic.
“I cannot understand for the life of me why the city council in 1988 decided to allow construction on every strip of land on Marc Chagall,” said Cohen, noting that strip includes the city’s snow dump, Beth Chabad and JPPS-Bialik School. “Where was the vision?”
There are about 700 people total living in the four surrounding condos and the nearby townhouses. Seeing the controversy brewing, Cohen initiated an ad-hoc committee of area residents that has already sat down with the developers to discuss concerns about the project, including street parking both during and after construction.
“There are a lot of residents on that street and many of them are upset,” said Cohen. “I’ve spent an enormous amount of time on the telephone and I’ve received many emails.”
With zoning in place for three decades, it would be illegal for councillors to nix the project, Cohen said. Some time ago, the council proactively set the height limit to 12 storeys rather than 16 in the city’s master plan, knowing the land would someday be developed. The city can’t restrict a building’s unit density, he said, but that density is a concern for local residents.
“There will be 306 apartment units compared to the 300 that are currently in these four buildings,” said committee member Sidney Margles. “They’re doubling the density. The street can’t handle that volume of traffic.”
As it stands, the surrounding condominiums that face the construction project are filled with noise and the balconies have become unusable, explained Margles, who moved into the Marquis the day it opened 12 years ago. Margles and his neighbours long expected a project in the vacant lot, but not of this magnitude. He said he is deeply concerned about not just the noise, but the expected traffic that such a project will bring to the neighbourhood. There are only two exits from the area and one is a school zone, he said.
“I am very disappointed that they’re going to have that many units,” Cohen added. “We’re going to have to enact serious traffic studies in the coming year.”
From her Mackle Rd. dwelling, which backs up to the site, Esther Hockenstein described the work as “complete disruption in the quality of life.” She is woken up at 7 a.m. by the noise seven days a week and that work has gone on until 8 p.m. at times. Citing her right to live in peace, Hockenstein said, “I hold the city of Côte-St-Luc responsible for allowing this situation to develop.”
Neighbour Mike Cuplowsky is a condo developer himself, but he said his company always works reasonable hours and respects surrounding residents. Cuplowsky would be happy if he could have just one weekend day off from the noise as, he said: “They have to take their neighbours into consideration.”
Contacted by phone and email several times since Wednesday afternoon, Trantor Realty and Groupe Jadco representatives did not reply with a comment before the Friday deadline.