The Official Opposition at Montreal City Hall’s spokesperson for infrastructure, Mr. Alan DeSousa, and city councilors for the borough of Côte-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, Ms. Stéphanie Valenzuela and Mr. Sonny Moroz, held a press conference on Tuesday morning urging the Plante administration to accelerate the development on the site of the former Hippodrome. On the eve of the sixth anniversary of the transfer of land between the Government of Quebec and the City of Montreal, they regret that the development is still stuck on the starting line.
“Although six long years have passed and there have been no horses on the site for a very long time, we continue to go around in circles at the Hippodrome. The administration has a golden opportunity to meet certain housing needs and it is not seizing it. This is inconceivable. It is time for the City of Montreal to be proactive; it needs to wake up and develop this piece of land it owns,” declared Mr. Alan DeSousa.
The recommendations of the Office de consultation publique de Montréal (OCPM) for the Namur-Hippodrome sector were published in 2020. They are to serve as a basis for the development of a vision for the site, but the City is slow to consider them.
In six years, only one call for tenders was successful in finding offers. This single successful call for tenders was awarded to a housing nonprofit organization. The second call for tenders, aimed towards private developers, received no interest because of the absence of a development plan and timeline for 96% of the site’s area, among other impediments the administration is responsible for.
For the elected officials of the Official Opposition, it is hard to imagine that the first housing units in the Namur-Hippodrome district will be delivered by 2025, as promised by the administration with passivity and a lack of predictability. The Official Opposition is demanding that a Special Planning Program (a PPU) for the Namur-Hippodrome district be tabled for the September 2023 City Council meeting at the latest and that the OCPM be mandated to hold a public consultation on said Special Planning Program. This type of program will make it possible to concretize the vision of the sector, thus accelerating its development by responding to the lack of planning denounced by the developers. A Special Planning Program would also allow the integration of the Hippodrome’s development into the Master Plan of the City of Montreal once the program is adopted.
To remedy another source of uncertainty for the City’s partners, the City of Montreal must commit to quantifying and distributing the necessary infrastructure investment funds between the various actors. It should also negotiate an infrastructure investment agreement (for water, roads, housing, public transport, etc.) with other levels of government.
“To develop the Hippodrome, the City needs private developers as well as other levels of government. It must also include the voices of Côte-des-Neiges community groups. Their input is essential to creating a project that meets their needs. Residents deserve more than the bare minimum invested in this project – their voices must be heard to ensure that the project meets their needs. The motto should be ‘predictability,’ otherwise the development of the Hippodrome will remain a failure”, lamented Mr. Moroz.
“More than 2,500 households are waiting for social housing in Côte-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grâce. We are the borough with the second longest waiting list. Although the Hippodrome’s land could meet part of our housing needs, it is taking on the appearance of a mirage for more and more citizens,” denounced Stephanie Valenzuela. The elected officials of Ensemble Montréal will table a motion to this effect at the next City Council meeting, to be held on May 15.