The demolition on Blue Bonnets: groups and residents
urge the City to seize the opportunity to develop otherwise
April 10, 2018, Montreal – In preparation for the demolition this week of the Blue Bonnets Clubhouse (the former Montreal racecourse), residents and groups from Côte-des-Neiges gathered in front of the Town Hall to urge the City to prioritize this important issue and seize this opportunity to develop the site differently.
“We need Blue Bonnets. So many people in the neighborhood are poorly housed, do not have enough to eat, or struggle to pay for the subway pass. It is urgent to meet the needs of these people: it’s been too long since we wait! We’ve been in the street for Blue Bonnets for more than 20 years: it’s time to move, “says Nola Shaw, a resident of Côte-des-Neiges and a member of the Housing Right Committee at Project Genesis.
“The Blue Bonnets site is a great opportunity for Montreal. The Plante administration has an opportunity here to do development differently: by meeting the needs of the neighborhood instead of prioritizing the interests of real estate developers “says Yamina Chergui of the Côte-des-Neiges Community Development Corporation. The site, which is the size of more than 40 football fields, was moved from Quebec City to the City of Montreal last year and will accommodate 5,000 to 8,000 households. Ms. Chergui recalls that since 2005 the community claims at least 2,500 social housing on the site.
For Ron Rayside, architect at Rayside Labossière, “We must ask who will benefit from the development of this vast land. It is entirely possible to proceed with an innovative, ecologically sustainable, quality-of-life development – one that is truly inclusive for low- and middle-income households. ”
The development of the Triangle, right next to the racetrack, excluded former residents of the area. “We saw that here in Montreal, the default is to build condo towers. At home there have been almost 2,500 new condos in recent years, but the neighborhood’s 15,000 households living below the poverty line had only 104 social housing units with rent subsidies. The city is turning its back on its responsibility to look after the public’s interests and protect the accessibility of our neighborhoods, “says Alexandra Craan of the Mountain Sights Community Center. The group recently co-authored a research report that reveals that the Inclusion Strategy does not make inclusive real estate developments.
According to the organizers, it’s time to put the pieces in place for it to move. “We know that this is not a project that will be built in the coming months: we must first address the issue of the Cavendish extension, install infrastructure, etc. But the City of Montreal must move forward now to define the vision of what we want to see on the site, to define what Montrealers really need in this new development. We do not want to see another Triangle, another Griffintown. For now, Projet Montréal has promised only 20% of social housing. It’s not enough ! It’s a huge opportunity to do things differently: do not miss it, “says Claire Abraham, community organizer at Project Genesis.