Hampstead residents who want to prevent the replacement of 5781-5783 Côte St. Luc Road with a 10-storey apartment building have launched a campaign to vote against the project in an upcoming referendum, via the new website votehampstead.com.
The referendum will be held from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday Nov. 24 at the Adessky Community Centre in Hampstead Park. A No vote is a vote against the project, and a majority No vote would end the project.
Many vulnerable people live in the approximately 75-year-old buildings. The town council has been split on the project, with councillors voting 3-3 and Mayor William Steinberg breaking the tie in favour. Recently, 252 residents signed a register to prompt the upcoming referendum, which affects residents in the zones in the area of the current apartment building.
“We feel ours is an important test case that will set a precedent for tenants and landlords alike,” stated tenant Sharon Hyman, who has been outspoken regarding the issue on Facebook. “With the current crisis in affordable housing, we want to set an example and empower tenants to fight back.”
No side campaign manager Leah Lasry, who was especially passionate about the issue at a recent town council meeting, said it is especially important that residents make sure they are eligible to vote.
“All those folks who know they are not on the official voters list need to present themselves at the town hall [on Queen Mary Road] on Nov. 11 between 12 and 6 p.m., and on Nov. 12 between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m.,” she explained. “Bring a proof of citizenship.
“It’s so important that everybody votes, and it’s so important that the No wins by a huge majority, to send a message to Mayor Steinberg that this is a widespread No.”
Some residents were not allowed to sign their name during the October register that prompted the referendum.
“We don’t want to have a repeat of that, we don’t want any voter suppression,” Lasry said.
Town clerk Pierre Tapp told The Suburban following the early October register that many who could not sign were not Canadian citizens, or were subletting the residence.
“I have four names of people who were supposed to be on the list, but who were not, four names out of 2,009,” he added at the time.
Lasry filed a complaint regarding those who could not sign the register with Elections Quebec. The agency responded in a letter, which said: “please note that we have provided a reminder of the rules applicable to the persons concerned to prevent such a situation from happening again at a future event.”
The votehampstead.com website contends that the vote could be for the first of many proposed high rises on CSL Road, and that a new apartment building will attract more car-owning families — the current tenants use public transportation.
The No campaign argues that:
• “The traffic created by the proposed redevelopment of CSL Road will further clog our streets — longer traffic jams, more cars, more pollution. Increased congestion forever.”
• That Steinberg “described the proposed building as ‘the most important development in Hampstead’s history.’” The No campaign says “this is the start of a rezoning plan for the whole block.
“Does the Mayor even care about the interests of the residents impacted by these projects?” the website asks. “Whose interests will be trampled next?”
Steinberg has said he is acting in the best interests of the town.
The website also contains a list of homes whose inhabitants — those eligible to vote in a Canadian election — can cast a ballot on Nov. 24.
In the meantime, Tapp has announced that Martin Leblanc “has been appointed representative of the group favoring the answer ‘No’ in the Nov 24 referendum.