Old Philosophy College: OCPM recommends more modest project in keeping with Mount Royal protection regulations



    MONTREAL, Aug. 11 /CNW Telbec/ - The Office de consultation publique de
Montréal (OCPM) makes public today the report on the consultation held in the
spring on the development project for the site of the old Philosophy College
in the borough of Ville-Marie, within the boundaries of the historic and
natural borough of Mont-Royal.
    The project consists in converting into housing units the old Philosophy
College building on Côte-des-Neiges Road, occupied until recently by
Marianopolis College, and in constructing residential buildings on part of the
surrounding land. Some 325 housing units are planned. The project calls for
the repurposing of the old College, the construction of new buildings ranging
from three to nine storeys in height, and the addition of a 656-space
underground parking garage.
    The project requires amendments to the Montréal Master Plan and the urban
planning by-law of the borough of Ville-Marie. The consultation had to take
into account the Mount Royal Master Protection and Enhancement Plan adopted in
April. Moreover, as the draft by-law amending the zoning by-law of the borough
of Ville-Marie was adopted pursuant to Section 89, subparagraph 5 of the
Charter of Ville de Montréal, it is partly subject to approval by referendum.
    Hundreds of people attended the information sessions. More than 60 of
them posed questions to the developer or the City, and 60 people formally
expressed their points of view. Most of those who spoke were opposed to the
project, at least in its current format. Many think that it goes against the
objectives of the Mount Royal Master Protection and Enhancement Plan (MRMPEP).
Others believe that it is not sufficiently thought-out, given the exceptional
nature of the site. According to them, the project should be reviewed and
enhanced. Lastly, some found the project acceptable, as it allows the
protection of the built heritage and surrounding natural areas.
    Given the fact that the mountain's heritage is of community-wide
interest, conversion projects for major sites and institutional buildings
located in the historic and natural borough of Mont-Royal cannot be treated as
ordinary development projects. The conversion project for the site of the
Philosophy College is the first to be submitted for public examination
following the adoption of the MRMPEP by city council.
    Given the lack of purchase offers from the public sector, the commission
finds that the residential vocation and sale to private interests of a
building the Sulpicians no longer want is a plausible option, so long as the
development concept allows for exemplary natural and cultural heritage
preservation and enhancement, and does not increase physical or visual
obstructions between Parc du Mont-Royal and the city. The commission referred
to the MRMPEP in conducting its analysis and paid particular attention to each
of the eight concerns outlined by city council in its public consultation
mandate.
    The development project for the site of the old College has some positive
aspects, such as the restoration of the old College building and commemorative
monuments, the preservation of the wooded areas and plant life, underground
parking, limited automobile access, and the willingness to continue to allow
public access to the site, whether to enjoy the surrounding or to reach Mount
Royal.
    However, some aspects of the project present problems, primarily in terms
of respecting views and zones that should remain free of all residential
construction. Other concerns have to do with the conditions of public access
to the site and upholding of commitments made by the developer's and
co-owners. The commission recommends that the conservation zones identified in
the studies be kept free of construction, that the height of some of the
buildings be lowered to preserve views from the Cedar/Côte-des-Neiges
intersection, and that the landscaped area in the eastern portion of the site
be preserved. This would result in a smaller-scale project with a smaller
footprint. Lastly, the commission recommends that public right of access to
the site be formalized, with a pedestrian pathway crossing the site towards
the mountain, and that the development agreement and easements be strengthened
to ensure long-term maintenance of commitments made by the developer.
    All available information pertaining to the consultation, as well as a
copy of the report, may be obtained at the OCPM offices, the Direction du
greffe de la Ville de Montréal, 275 Notre-Dame Street East, and the
Ville-Marie borough office, 888 de Maisonneuve Boulevard East, 5th floor. The
documentation is also available on the Office Web site, at www.ocpm.qc.ca. For
information, please call 514 872-8510.




For further information:

For further information: Luc Doray, (514) 872-3568, Cell: (514)
977-8365


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