Residents of two apartment buildings in Hampstead are one step closer to being evicted as the town council has voted in favour of tearing down their homes and allowing the development of a luxury condo project.
The dozens of tenants of the two apartment buildings on Cote Saint Luc Rd. near Ellerdale St. have been fighting the project since it was first announced earlier this year.
Developers want to replace the existing four-storey buildings with a ten-storey building that would house 90 luxury condos.
Town Council voted on the project for the second time on Monday and this time three councillors voted in favour of the project, while three opposed building it.
Hampstead Mayor Bill Steinberg then cast the deciding vote approving the development, much to the dismay of many residents.
The vote was necessary because three weeks ago, the town council voted 3-2 against approving the project.
Marie Pontini told the Town Council that she was outraged by the political maneuvering.
"After the results that you didn't like you said 'oh well now, I don't think it's okay to proceed because I would prefer that there be six people [councillors]'. But you were fine five seconds before. I just want to mention that because it's pretty disgusting and that's not how democracy works," said Pontini.
"Those councillors represent us and they voted no."
Tenants dismiss offers of help
The developers have promised compensation to evicted tenants, and to help them find new homes.
Pontini, who uses a wheelchair, is worried she will never be able to find an affordable home, especially given the region's low vacancy rate.
"There is one waiting list for handicapped, co-op, that kind of housing. I've been on it for two years now. Where is he going to find it? Please tell me. And where is he going to push on [Montreal Housing Bureau's] list? Like seriously, come on," she said.
Hampstead resident Martin Leblanc said he was disappointed in how the vote proceeded.
"In our democracy we are having a hard time getting votes for elected councils, for a zoning issue, everybody is against those projects, 100 percent. Will they go that day to vote against? I'm not sure. And the mayor and some of his friends, they know that," said Leblanc.
Tallest building in Hampstead
The proposed development would be the tallest building in the town, and nearby homeowners are worried their properties would lose value being in its shadow.
They also wanted to know why the developers needed to demolish two apartment buildings when there are vacant lots in Hampstead.
Mayor Steinberg wants to allow more modern, higher-density housing in Hampstead to attract more residents and increase the tax base.
Jonathan Goldbloom, spokesperson for the developers, Mitch Moss & Mitch Abraham, said the development would encourage adults to stay in Hampstead.
"I think that what we're saying is why should people only move to Griffintown? Young people, this would bring new young people into the area in a rental space they can afford and in the end I think that they'll eventually move into Hampstead as they go into their second and third houses," said Goldbloom.
"It's a modern facility which will have air conditioning, elevators, access for those who are physically challenged."
Opponents like Felicia De la Guardia say the town was never intended to have such buildings.
"They are motivated only by money. That's all they are motivated by. Because on Cote Saint Luc they have nothing to do, and the housing from these buildings that they will be building will be extremely expensive," said De la Guardia.
Next meeting in two weeks
The next meeting to discuss the condo development is scheduled for August 19.
The town and the developer will have experts present traffic studies and information about the shade that the 10-storey building would create.
Opponents hope that they will get enough people to sign a register which would force a referendum that could halt the project.
"I believe at the end of the day it will be approved. If it's not approved I'm a big supporter of democracy and if what people want is to not have projects on Cote Saint Luc Rd. it's fine by me," said Steinberg.
If the project does move forward, tenants will have to leave by November 2020.
With reporting from Max Harrold and Denise Roberts