Office de consultation publique de Montréal

Office de consultation publique de Montréal

March 11, 2009 10:17 ET

OCPM Public Consultation Report: Redevelopment Project for CN Shops in Pointe-Saint-Charles

MONTREAL, QUEBEC--(Marketwire - March 11, 2009) - The Office de consultation publique de Montreal (OCPM) announces today the publication of its report on the redevelopment project for the old CN shops located in the Pointe-Saint Charles area of Montreal's Sud-Ouest borough. The public consultation was led by OCPM president Louise Roy, and ad-hoc Office commissioner Luba Serge. Throughout the various phases of the consultation, no less than 300 people participated in the public activities organized by the OCPM.

The mandate entrusted to the Office was a first, having been assigned upstream from the filing of site development plans. It was divided into two parts: a consultative effort aimed at the general public, and a participative effort involving the borough, the neighbourhood's key social and community players, as well as the Groupe Mach, owner of the site, and Samcon, its partner in the residential development project. It is also important to note the participation of the Agence metropolitaine de transport (AMT), which announced, in September 2008, its intention to occupy a significant portion of the site with the opening of a railway engine maintenance centre.

The site of the old CN shops, covering almost a quarter of the Pointe-Saint-Charles area south of the Lachine Canal, has always played a prominent part in the area's history. It was the hub of Montreal's industrial and railway development for more than a century. Having been under-utilized in recent years, it was sold by CN to the Groupe Mach in June 2006, and efforts to redevelop the site have since resumed. As the Montreal Master Plan provides that a master development plan is required prior to proceeding with any regulatory amendment pertaining to the site, the public consultation process served to establish relevant guiding principles.

The project envisioned by the owner would create, in the southern portion of the site, a new residential area extending the existing urban fabric. It involves the construction of approximately 1000 new affordable housing units. The owner plans to devote up to 25% of that number to social and community housing. For the central portion of the site, the Goupe Mach is seeking a zoning change allowing it to accommodate new industries and businesses. At the time of the consultation, the entire northern section was earmarked as a Quebec government land reserve for the future AMT site. That section would therefore remain a railway industrial area in future.

The OCPM president believes that the consultation process, in co-operation with developers, helped to enhance the projects in the planning phases, greatly benefiting the neighbourhood. Those benefits were recognized both by citizens and by social and community players sitting on the steering committee. The site's industrial revitalization was seen as an important improvement, reviving railway activities on the site and offering the possibility of quality employment for local residents. The residential development project was also well received as it will expand the local community and social housing stock, and increase the number of public green spaces beyond percentages provided for under municipal by-laws. New local services and enhanced public transit service should also be supported.

However, some concerns remain, and are highlighted in the commission's report. "The coherent layout of the industrial zone and its proximity to the residential area constitute a challenge. Everything wasn't so rosy in that respect back in the days of the CN either. The prospect of recreating an industrial railway hub with related enterprises is interesting, so long as a healthy coexistence can be established with the neighbouring residential area," says Ms. Roy. The commission therefore recommends that the borough proceed carefully to avoid the establishment of companies difficult to insert into the transition zone between the two areas.

According to Ms. Roy, "access to the site is also a major consideration in planning the revitalization, given the effect that the location of entrances will have on local traffic and on the operations of companies setting up in the industrial zone. The commission believes it imperative that the borough implement all measures required to eliminate heavy traffic from residential streets." In the initial phases, the construction of a truck access via the level crossing on Marc-Cantin Street and improved public transit service would provide practical solutions to the resident's feeling of being cut off from the rest of the city. The commission suggests that the borough immediately enlist the help of the STM in developing its local transportation plan.

Lastly, the commission believes that the portion of the residential development to be devoted to social housing should be discussed within a broader framework evaluating social mix issues and ensuing development opportunities for the neighbourhood. The consultation participants also expressed concerns regarding industrial heritage protection, and the commission commends the Societe d'histoire de Pointe Saint-Charles, Heritage-Montreal and Culture-Montreal for their offer of support in that area.

All documentation pertaining to the consultation, including the report, is available in electronic format on the site of the Office de consultation publique de Montreal (www.ocpm.qc.ca) or, in print form, at the OCPM offices during regular business hours.

Contact Information

  • Office de consultation publique de Montreal
    Luc Doray
    514-872-3568
    Cell : 514-977-8365
    www.ocpm.qc.ca