Office de consultation publique de Montréal

Office de consultation publique de Montréal

March 19, 2009 07:00 ET

OCPM/Maison de Radio-Canada Modernization and Site Development Project is Relevant, But Requires Significant Improvement

MONTREAL, QUEBEC--(Marketwire - March 19, 2009) - The Office de consultation publique de Montreal (OCPM) made public yesterday the consultation report on Radio-Canada's plan to modernize its facilities and develop a vast real estate project on its existing site along Rene-Levesque Boulevard, at the eastern end of downtown Montreal. The consultation, held between November 18 and December 11, was presided over by Me Claude Fabien, assisted by Ms. Helene Laperriere and Mr. Jean-Claude Boisvert. All three are ad hoc commissioners with the OCPM.

The project is estimated at $1.6 billion, and includes the construction of some 2000 housing units, as well as commercial, office, and public spaces. The new buildings, reaching up to 44 metres in height, would be constructed around the existing tower, on land currently occupied by large parking lots, which are to be moved underground. The Radio-Canada offices would be relocated to other buildings near the studios, and therefore remain on the site. The road network will also have to be redeveloped in order to complete project.

Several hundred people participated in the public meetings, and the commission received 32 briefs. The consultation revealed widespread support for the project's basic intentions. The modernization effort is seen as beneficial to all concerned. On the one hand, it would allow the Societe Radio-Canada (SRC) to meet future challenges in its field, and to remain the development engine for the Cite des Ondes. On the other, it would provide a social and economic boost for a somewhat unstructured neighbourhood. No one questioned the relevance of the project. However, participants expressed reservations, expectations and concerns, some regarding the lack of attention paid to the history and initial urbanization of the Centre-sud area. The commission recommends that the developer enhance the project's design and planning to better reflect the history and reality of this area of Montreal.

The first reservation involves the project's integration into the neighbourhood. According to the commission, self-financing constraints have led to a project whose density imposes volumes difficult to integrate into the urban context, contrary to the SRC's wish to respect the needs of the local community and harmoniously integrate the project into its urban environment. Several participants feared that the 11-storey buildings planned along Rene-Levesque Boulevard might create a screen or wall effect, thereby maintaining the insularity of the SRC facilities, and perpetuating the tear in the urban fabric created in the '70s. Others stressed the importance of maintaining the neighbourhood's visual contact with the esplanade, public places and landscapes, which are considered too closed off. Moreover, the project's dominant direction along the site, from east to west, is inconsistent with re-establishing strong functional ties with the neighbourhood, historically running north to south. The commission recommends that the layout be redesigned to open it up to the adjacent neighbourhood.

A second reservation concerns the feasibility of the proposed topography, which involves having Beaudry and Alexandre-de-Seve Streets cross under De La Gauchetiere Street. The commission believes that insufficient documentation is available on this redevelopment to properly assess construction and maintenance costs, or climatic and technical functional constraints, among other things. It recommends a validation study for a number of elements of the topographic shape that it believes could have serious consequences, and suggests that the study be conducted prior to the final adoption of the master development plan and of the draft By-laws.

However, despite those reservations and in light of the opinions expressed, the commission recognizes the relevance of the project, notably in view of the predominantly residential nature, housing variety, and mix of uses proposed. It has sought to enhance the project through better urban and social integration with the surrounding neighbourhood, and by extending its structuring effect over the entire eastern portion of downtown. The commission also notes the need to provide a framework for the projects within a larger development vision for eastern downtown. It recognizes the importance of covering the Ville-Marie Expressway and redeveloping Papineau square to open up the area and create an environment where families will want to live and raise children.

All information pertaining to the consultation may be reviewed at the offices of the OCPM, the Direction du Greffe de la Ville de Montreal, at 275 Notre-Dame Street East, and the Ville-Marie borough office, at 888 de Maisonneuve Boulevard, 5th Floor. The documentation is also available on the Office Web site, at www.ocpm.qc.ca. The report is available on the Web site, or in print form at the OCPM offices.

Since its creation in 2002 under the Charter of Ville de Montreal, the OCPM has managed 70 consultation projects and held over 250 public meetings attended by some 25,000 citizens. Please visit the OCPM Web site, www.ocpm.qc.ca, for complete information about the Office.

Contact Information

  • Office de consultation publique de Montreal
    Luc Doray
    514-872-3568
    514-977-8365 (Cell)