New Beaconsfield townhouse development adheres to Schema density guidelines
PHOTO BY JOHN JANAK
Residents voice their concerns about population density and increased traffic during a public consultation meeting about a new 22-unit townhouse project that will be built on Beaurepaire Drive and Prairie Drive just south of Highway 20 near St. Charles Boulevard and close to the Beaconsfield Shopping Centre.
It was standing room only at the Beaconsfield council chamber on Monday, November 23, as about 50 residents crammed into the hall to voice their concerns to city officials about a developer’s plans to build a 22-unit residential townhouse project at the site of a former gas station.
Residents who live near the proposed development, which is slated for Beaurepaire Drive and Prairie Drive just south of Highway 20 near St. Charles Boulevard and close to the Beaconsfield Shopping Centre, said that an already difficult traffic situation in the area will significantly worsen with the addition of the new two-storey residences and asked the city to reconsider the proposal.
“Obviously we are concerned when it comes to issues like traffic especially in areas where we’re going to increase density,” Mayor Georges Bourelle told Your Local Journal. “That came out very clearly during the consultation meeting tonight and we’re going to have to take that into consideration. I don’t know what we can do, but it’s something we need to look at to see how we can address it.
“As far as densification is concerned, this project is well within the norms that we’ve followed in Beaconsfield in terms of height,” Bourelle added. “It’s not unlike some of the other areas where we’ve had townhouse development like on Elm Avenue. I wouldn’t consider this project a huge densification.”
Another problem the town is trying to manage is how to proceed with future development in a responsible way to generate more tax revenue instead of having to constantly place the burden on existing property owners.
“We’re always in a dilemma with taxpayers,” said Bourelle. “People don’t want to pay more taxes and they don’t want their taxes increased a lot. We’re looking at this project as a way to try to increase our revenues. The reality is we have to increase our development. You’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t.”
While residents may not like the trend towards densification, Bourelle said increasing population density is a reality that all on-island and off-island municipalities now have to contend with because of the requirements outlined in the Montreal Metropolitan Community’s (CMM) Schema for future development.
Under the Schema, all municipalities must adhere to strict density requirements that specify a minimum number of people that have to be accommodated within each hectare of land for each new development, especially if new projects are located near major highways and transportation hubs such as train stations.
“One of the important things to understand about the Schema is that it talks about minimum density,” said Bourelle. “It says you cannot go below this requirement but it doesn’t talk about any kind of maximum density, so technically we could put up a 12-story building in our city centre. But it’s our intention to keep the character and image of our peaceful city intact as much as we can.”
In order to ensure that future developments fall within the realm of what’s best for the municipality, the city adopted a resolution during its regular council meeting to create an urban planning advisory committee that will oversee and study the impact of new developments.
“The advisory committee will be headed by our most senior councillor, Wade Staddon, and its mandate will be to hold regular hearings and seek briefs from anyone who wishes to submit one,” said Bourelle. “We’ll be looking at our longer term development and how we can meet the needs of our residents. We will consult with our residents and we’ll be listening to them.
“We know we won’t satisfy 100 per cent of the people but we’ll try to come up with an approach that will have a large segment of our residents in accordance with the approach that we want to take,” Bourelle added.