Mayoral candidates spar over Blue Bonnets development and who can get it done

On the municipal campaign Tuesday, Projet Montreal was promising to finally get started on the development of the old Blue Bonnets racetrack.

 It’s a project that has seen more than a decade of delays in the Cote-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grace borough.

The former Blue Bonnets site, known as Namur-Hippodrome, has been sitting empty for over a decade, waiting for a major redevelopment to get off the ground.

Incumbent mayoral candidate Valerie Plante says a large carbon-neutral community will be built there in the coming years if she's re-elected.

“What we're saying this morning is that now we're ready to move forward,” she said. “We will be able to say to developers by 2023, ‘Here's the land.”

If it sounds familiar, that's because the idea of a development been on the back burner or a very long time – and was first announced by Denis Coderre in 2017.

When Plante was elected, she launched public consultations and overhauled the project to make it carbon-neutral.

The new blueprint calls for 7,500 housing units, 2,000 of them subsidized and an additional 2,000 affordable units.

Like her main rival, Plante said she too would cover a portion of the Decarie Expressway around Jean-Talon Boulevard to improve access to Namur metro station.

She also promises that Cavendish Boulevard will now be connected between Cote St-Luc and the borough of St-Laurent, a project first announced in the early 1970s.

“The original project was not satisfying. It was not based on today's needs, which means leaving place for cars, leaving place for public transit,” she said. “It has to be very present and active.”

Coderre says Plante has done nothing to advance the project during her four years in power.

“They had the opportunity,” he said on the campaign trail Tuesday.

Coderre's candidate for mayor of the borough, Lionel Perez, said if Ensemble Montreal takes back city hall, the project will go ahead, but will just be less ambitious. The land would remain in city's hands.

“Projet Montreal has been negligent for the last four years and now they’re promising the world because it's an election year,” he said.

Either way, both parties are saying the project will go ahead, with the developers pitching their proposals for housing by 2023 at the latest.

The municipal election is on Nov. 7. 

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