• John Jantak

Two councillors oppose Ste. Anne’s bid to apply for renovation grant to restore heritage building


Ste. Anne’s council is analyzing the possibility of recuperating the masonry from the historical Braerob Farmhouse into a new chalet near the projected new Réseau express métropolitain (REM) train station on Chemin Ste. Marie.

A resolution was adopted by a majority of councillors at the monthly Ste. Anne de Bellevue council meeting on October 15 to apply for a grant from the City of Montreal to restore the Maison Michel-Robillard and convert the remaining stone structure into the entrance for the new regional park.

Two councillors, Francis Juneau and Yvan Labelle, voted against the by-law saying the final costs haven’t been determined as to whether renovating the remaining stone heritage structure would be less expensive than building a new facility.

“There are a lot of good points in the resolution but until we have a definite plan, that’s when we’ll know exactly if we’re comparing bananas with oranges. Right now, I think it’s a bit premature,” Labelle told The Journal after the meeting.

Fund to restore heritage buildings

Mayor Paola Hawa said there’s no reason for city not to apply for a grant from the City of Montreal at this time. “There’s a $1 million fund available for patrimonial buildings which is only available to demerged cities,” she said.

As part of its commitment to the new regional park that will be located in the north sector of Ste. Anne’s, the city is required to build an entrance chalet which will be located directly across the street from Réseau express métropolitain (REM) train station on Chemin Ste. Marie.

Renovated facility or new chalet

The municipality now has to determine whether it would be more cost-efficient to build a new chalet or whether the remaining structure of the Maison Michel-Robillard – formerly known as the Braerob Farmhouse – can be salvaged and integrated into a partially new structure. The building was gutted by fire in 2012 but the stone masonry remains intact.

Hawa said if it’s possible to preserve the remaining building and integrate it as part of a new chalet it would not only preserve an important part of Ste. Anne’s heritage, it would be less expensive than demolishing what’s left of Maison Michel-Robillard and building an exclusive new chalet.

City will analyze costs

“Once we apply for the grant and find out how much we’re eligible for, we will see what the net cost will be to the city. We will make a comparison of the net cost of the renovation versus building a new chalet,” said Hawa.

The mayor added there was no reason for Councillors Juneau and Labelle to have opposed the resolution that was adopted. “It’s free money,” she said. “There’s no logical reason for it. If you read the resolution, it has nothing to do with approving a building. It’s to see if we’re eligible for a grant. That’s all it is. Why would anyone oppose something like that?”

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