Pointe-Claire votes to put Cadillac Fairview housing megaproject on ice

The proposed tower project in Pointe-Claire is causing concern for many residents concerned with how it will transform the region.

The Cadillac Fairview condo development in Pointe-Claire is on ice after a vote Tuesday that put the project into a zoning freeze.

After hours of debate, there was a near-unanimous consensus, with one councillor abstaining and the rest supporting the freeze.

The turnaround came as a surprise to many in Pointe-Claire, since acus recently as a week ago, it seemed like a done deal that the current mall parking lot would be excluded from the zoning freeze and be used for the high-density megaproject.

But there were recent worries that excluding the project entirely from the zoning freeze, known as RCI, would mean there would be very few limitations on it.

"The height requirement on that project is airplanes crashing on top of it. Otherwise they can go even higher," said Pointe-Claire Mayor Tim Thomas.

His goal heading into the vote was "to include Cadillac Fairview in the RCI -- of course," he said. "That has been my objective since day one."

But some councillors didn't seem as sure. With heavy pressure about how the development might eat into nearby woods, as well as height and other zoning concerns, at least two councillors seemed to be waffling.

"Nothing is a sure thing," shrugged councillor Brent Cowan as the debate kicked off.

When the vote came through, people in the audience applauded.

The project, which would be built on the lot that currently houses the 900-car parking lot at the Fairview Mall, was proposed as three nearly 30-storey towers. It would ultimately create hundreds of housing units with a plaza and bike path near the new REM station.

Supporters of the project say it's the kind of high-density housing that's needed right now, with Cadillac Fairview saying it will be a better use than the "sea of asphalt" current there.

Cadillac Fairview didn't respond to a request for comment. However, at the meeting, the company's representative said he sent the council memebers a letter and had gotten no reply.

There were two main points of contention over the project's specifics. First, people took issue with the height of the planned towers, which currently have a limit of 27 storeys because they're close to the airport.

Second is the forest nearby, which some locals have tried to get protected for years.

"We’re really concerned about what the impact of [the project] is on the forest, and we really wanted to talk about the project as a whole," said Genevieve Lussier of Save Fairview Forest. 

She said Pointe-Claire shouldn't allow both the lot and the woods to be developed.

"The REM has already eaten up eight of the 50 acres, so there’s only 42 acres left. So our goal is to save 100 percent of what’s left," she said.

With the vote putting the project into the freeze, both sides will have some more time to make their cases. After that time the city can either renew the freeze or make a permanent bylaw to replace it.

 --With files from CTV's Andrew Brennan

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