• John Jantak

Pincourt will move community garden if new arena is built on school board land


PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

Pincourt City Manager Michel Perrier said the community garden at École secondaire du Chêne-Bleu would be moved across the street if the city and Commission scolaire des Trois-Lacs agree to build a new arena on vacant land at the high school.

The City of Pincourt will move a community garden located on school board land if an agreement is reached with the Commission scolaire des Trois-Lacs to build a new arena on vacant property next to École secondaire du Chêne-Bleu.

The news comes almost one week after a social media post on a Facebook community page stated the garden would have to be razed if plans are approved by the city and school board to build the arena next to the high school on Pincourt Boulevard.

The loss of the garden would also mean at least 10 low-income families in the area who rely on produce harvested in the late-summer and fall would no longer receive the supplementary food, according to the post. The group that runs the garden is still planning to plant 20 fruit trees around the perimeter on November 2.

Commitment to preservation

Pincourt’s commitment to preserve the garden was made by City Manager Michel Perrier during a telephone interview with The Journal on October 23. “If we go ahead with the arena project, the garden will probably be moved across the street,” said Perrier.

About 20 to 25 thousand square feet of land that will not be used for construction near the Onyx project, a condominium and town house development near the southeast intersection of Pincourt Boulevard and Fifth Avenue, would be reserved for the community garden. “This is a preliminary step. There is a will by the city to move the garden elsewhere,” said Perrier.

PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

After having set idle, never used since its construction 15 years ago, the town is still not sure on the ultimate fate of the arena.

Abandoned arena future still uncertain

The city is in the process of determining the fate of the abandoned arena. Plans by the city to upgrade the interior to bring it up to current standards have also pretty much been abandoned, said Perrier

“Everything would be so complicated and expensive to build and operate that it’s not a viable solution for anybody, neither the city nor a private operator. There’s just no way we can support this kind of expense even though most of the building is still in good shape. We kind of put a cross across it and said ‘forget it,’” said Perrier during a telephone interview on October 16.

Possible development scenarios

There is also no firm commitment on what will happen to the land if the abandoned arena is demolished. A decision by council on how to proceed will be determined when the city and school board decide whether or not to build a new arena on the vacant high school land. Possible scenarios for the abandoned arena land have included exclusive residential or commercial development, or a combination of both.

“When we offer a piece of land, it’s always done through a proposal type of tender. The different promoters have to make a proposal as to the amount of money they are willing to offer. We always settle on a minimum base,” said Perrier.

New vocation for abandoned arena?

There has also been speculation the structure could be transformed to serve a new vocation. “We’re not quite there yet. Nothing has been decided at this point in time. We’ve got to settle on the new arena first. Council wants to take a stand before year-end. That’s when we’ll decide what we’ll do in regards to its actual location,” said Perrier.

Whatever council decides, any type of future development will need city approval. “In most cases, we impose specific criteria for construction. It’s not like anyone can build anything they want. It has to go through a process where the promoters bid on it. Last time we did this was with the Onyx project,” said Perrier.

“(Developer) Sylvain Ménard won the bid at the time. People are speculating because of that, he will get the rest of the land. These are nothing more than rumours. It’s not written in stone. The land has not been promised to anybody. It will go through a tender process. It’s open to the market. It also depends on whether the city will go ahead with a new arena on the vacant land proposed by the school board,” Perrier added.

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