Extension of Morgan Rd. threatens eco-territory: councillor
Karen Seidman, The Gazette , Tuesday, April 12, 2011
The proposed extension of Morgan Rd. into Ste. Anne de Bellevue has one city councillor there crying foul.
Paola Hawa says Ste. Anne’s Mayor Francis Deroo was elected on a platform of stopping development in the north sector of the town, but now she believes he is allowing a developer to steamroll through a precious, ecologically-valuable area.
The issue will come up at a city council meeting at the end of this month and Hawa says she believes council will vote to approve the extension of the road unless residents voice their opposition.
“It pisses me off that we are going to go from a beautiful forest to Grilli Condoville,” said Hawa. “This is a cash cow for the city.”
Although Deroo said there wasn’t much to say about the issue until it is approved, he did say that the important parts of the forest will be protected and the other land will be developed, as was always the plan.
“I’m surprised to hear anyone is opposed,” he said. “We always planned to develop that area.”
But Hawa said that it was opposition to proposed condos in the area that helped unseat former mayor Bill Tierney in the last election.
“Mr. Tierney was ousted because people didn’t want that,” said Hawa. “That forest is in my district and I went door-to-door to explain Mr. Tierney’s plan to people.”
She said Deroo promised to save the forest and, after being elected, the council took “the gutsy move” of adopting an interim bylaw to freeze all development in the area until it could be reviewed.
“It was adopted and it was visionary,” said Hawa. “The land would be frozen until we consulted residents and came up with a new urban plan.”
The Reglement de Contrôle Interimaire was passed unanimously last spring and it was intended to allow residents to get involved in the conception of the urban plan, which was a key 2009 election issue in the city, according to Hawa.
Then, early last winter, the portion of the land owned by the city of Montreal was suddenly sold to the Grilli Property Group for $3 a square foot, which Hawa likened to “a fire sale.”
While some of the land is supposed to be a park, the rest is zoned residential, she said. Then, two months ago, Hawa said Grilli asked the city to unfreeze a section of the property so he could put through Morgan Rd.
“Once the road is there, it is a charade to say the people will decide anything,” said Hawa, adding that once the road is extended, the houses will surely follow. “It’s a fait accompli despite the fact we’ve seen no plans about what will be done in the area.”
She is furious and is meeting with residents in small groups – for tea and cake sessions – to explain what is going on.
“I just really think the city has gone too far.”