The Pioneer Bar can be torn down for condos, sort of...
By the time it was all said and done, the hundreds of residents who packed a Holiday Inn conference room had dwindled to a couple dozen.
Many of those who toughed it out to the end of the meeting, which was around 2:00 A.M., were disappointed to hear the decision made by the Pointe-Claire demolition committee: The Pioneer Bar can be torn down.
"Speeches given by the residents present were nine to one against," Andrew Swidzinski, Vice President of the Pointe-Claire Heritage Society told CJAD 800.
The approval to bulldoze the 117-year-old building doesn't mean crews will be swinging a wrecking ball anytime soon. The committee wants the developer to go back to the drawing board.
"They refused conditionally the land use project," Swidzinski said.
The developer will now need to revise its plan for the luxury condominium project, but how the committee wants them to modify the plan was not made clear to those at the meeting.
For Swidzinski and many of the others opposed to the project, the protest is not just about the Pioneer, it's about what many say is a plan that could change the entire look and feel of the iconic Pointe-Claire Village.
"60 per cent of the area that would be occupied by the condos consists of the public parking lot that's next door. The city is selling that to the developer for $730,000" said Swidzinski. "We had an independent appraisers report, to the effect that the actual value of that land is $1.15 million."
That parking lot is relied on, heavily, by the local merchants in the village. Right now the city has plans to move the parking lot to a nearby park, but where exactly it is going to end up continues to be a mystery.
Pointe-Claire Mayor John Belvedere has said that there are plans to redevelop Bourgeau park, which have been in discussion for about five years. He said while some things will be moved around; there will not be an overall loss of green space.
Swidzinski was not as optimistic about the potential impact on the park.
"They refuse to provide any details as to where the new parking lot is going to go. We don't know if it's going to replace the pool, the baseball field or the tennis courts," he said. "We have no idea where it's going to go."
According to Swidzinski, the condo project is not the only option for the Pioneer. There's a local business man who is willing to save it.
"A garage owner has indicated he's willing to buy it at the same price as the developer and invest half a million dollars of his own funds to do the work that needs to be done on it," he said.
For now, the condo developer will have to rework the plans before anything gets final approval. In the meantime, the demolition committee's decision is not the final nail in the coffin for the Pioneer. There is a 30-day appeal window, which Swidzinski said the Pointe-Claire Heritage Society and many other citizens plan to take advantage of.
"I would imagine at the end of the day, at the end of this 30-day deadline we'll see the full Pointe-Claire City Council vote on this decision."