MONTREAL, May 3, 2012 /CNW Telbec/ - The Office de consultation publique de Montréal makes public today its annual report for 2011, which will be tabled at the municipal council meeting on May 14.
The Office consulted Montrealers on 11 projects last year. With the expansion project for the MUHC on the mountain, concerns inevitably raised by the expansion of institutions beyond their historical footprint on the mountain resurfaced. The redevelopment of the Centre Raymond-Préfontaine site confirmed the challenges posed by residential development on contaminated land, and by the social integration of new arrivals in a community fearing the effects of gentrification. Moreover, the establishment of residual organic matter treatment infrastructures on four sites at the four corners of agglomeration territory reopened the issue of equitable distribution of community equipment, whose potential impacts often raise concerns.
The celebrations for Montréal's 375th anniversary also required the investment of a good deal of time and energy in a specific discussion process organized at the request of the Montréal executive committee and the Bureau du 375e anniversaire de Montréal. More than 340 citizens from all of the boroughs and a wide variety of areas attended the sessions.
The consultations this year were also marked by three projects involving planning for a dynamic reconstruction of large areas of downtown Montréal. In fact, the Office examined two Special Planning Programs (SPP) at the two extremities of the borough of Ville-Marie. The first, the SPP for the Quartier des grands jardins, covers the area west of Guy Street to the Westmount border. The second, the SPP for the Sainte-Marie district, focuses on the east end of the borough. Furthermore, an Office commission examined some 40 modifications to downtown building height and density maps.
In examining the Framework of revision of heights and densities in downtown Montréal, the suggestion was made to streamline the project-approval procedure under section 89 of the Charter of Ville de Montréal, making evaluation and approval procedures more flexible and thereby facilitating the realization of downtown projects while ensuring appropriate integration levels.
The idea requires detailed analysis, and the Office believes that the public revision of Montréal's public consultation policy is the appropriate forum to do so.
The Office recommends:
- That the statutory revision of Montréal's public consultation policy be used as an opportunity to study the impact of new consultation and project-approval processes for downtown;
- That the revision includes not only consultation processes, but also the administrative aspects of project-approval processes, with a view to better defining problems and identifying the best possible solutions.
In 2011, the Office also took an interest in discussions surrounding the reform of the Act respecting land use planning and development and its legislative translation, Bill 47. Many issues were raised, one of which drew particular attention, involving the possibility of municipalities creating free zones inside of which the referendum process would be abolished and replaced with a consultation process agreed upon by the municipality.
The Bill sets out a number of criteria for creating such zones. In the case of Montréal, a situation suspending the referendum process already exists: the exercise by city council of its right under section 89 of the Charter. In such cases, the referendum process is replaced by an obligation to hold public consultations conducted by the OCPM. The citizens thereby benefit from the by-law being examined by the Office, a neutral third party. It is a mechanism that has worked well for many years. Therefore, we believe that it should apply, for Montréal, on the territory of the proposed free zones. This would avoid the creation of new consultation mechanisms and procedures for the special cases of the proposed free zones.
The Office recommends that, in Montréal, all consultations on the territory of the proposed free zones provided for under Bill 47 be held by the Office de consultation publique de Montréal.
The OCPM will celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2012. Throughout those years, the Office and its practices have greatly evolved, a process that is sure to continue. The Office will mark this important step in its short history in the fall.
For further information:
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