Prior to voting June 30 on a sweeping new urban plan for redeveloping Montreal West over the next two decades, officials with the town are having second thoughts about a specific element, involving the construction of a large four-storey senior citizens home on Westminster Avenue South.
“I think what I feel like what I would be voting on would be ‘this looks like a good vision for the town,’ but in very broad strokes,” Councillor Elizabeth Ulin said during a well-attended public meeting at Montreal West Town Hall on Tuesday, to hear reaction from residents.
“When I vote yes or if I vote no that the actual physical drawings and where the trees are and where the buildings are … I’m not prepared to say any of that,” said Ulin, insisting very little of the urban plan so far is specific. “All I’m prepared to say is, ‘yes this looks like the direction we want go in or it doesn’t …’
“ … Maybe it doesn’t look like such an interesting place to have a seniors residence, but we’re not there yet,” she continued. “The fact that somebody drew in that as a picture doesn’t mean I’m voting for a seniors residence there. I want that to be really understood. And I think all the councillors sort of feel the same way.”
The centrepiece of the plan, which calls for the revitalization of the town’s commercial centre along Westminster, has drawn criticism from some residents of adjoining streets, especially Ballantyne Avenue South, who are worried about things like rear setbacks. Within its borders, Montreal West hasn’t any retirement home for seniors, and building one has long been an objective.
A draft version of the Urban Planning Programme says the block of land at the corner of Avon Road (St. Jacques Street) and Westminster will be earmarked for a seniors residence. An architect’s conceptual drawing of the corner shows a large four-storey building extending northward along the east side of Westminster for half a block. Some of this land is currently occupied by private residences and a public park.
Responding to a resident who brought up the four-storey proposal, a member of the town planning committee said, “We have not gone into specific detail. The town council as well as the town planning committee are aware, if I dare tell you, that some people are unhappy with the proposal and we’re looking at alternatives. “That being said, no final decision has been made, but the voices were loud and clear,” he added. “We’re not indifferent. Council has heard it, too, and they’re aware. In terms of the specifics, how we’re going to address that, that’s somewhere I wouldn’t like to go right now.”