During last week’s exclusive interview that took place in the office that overlooks the massive Royalmount project, bulldozers were already pushing down walls as cranes and their claws kept tearing into buildings that used to make up the old TMR industrial park. Carbonleo vice-president Claude Marcotte told The Suburban that “...we plan to raise the bar,” because the plan now calls for a further 6000 housing unit complex that will effectively create a new civic community.
“It’s not just another mall,” said Marcotte. “ It’s going to become what they call a TOD – a ‘Transport Oriented Destination’ that’s going to transform the entire west end of the city.”
Following the controversy that erupted after the city released its own interpretation of the 400 page traffic impact study that Carbonleo had already submitted to the city’s Urban and Economic Development, Marcotte quietly inferred that the city “...misinterpreted” the data, and that it should do its homework before going public with problems that never existed in the first place. “They should take a solid look at the data, that demonstrates little more than a 5 to 6% per cent increase in car traffic through the intersection,” said Marcotte.
Aside from his emphasis upon transparent dialogue with the city, the STM , and the MTQ about assorted traffic issues, Marcotte also mentioned that the city should take into account that Carbonleo plans to spend almost $50 million of its own money on assorted traffic abatement policies that are meant to ease access to the plaza.
“Instead of worrying about traffic, they should be thinking about the millions of dollars of (consumer) revenue that’s going to stay on the island instead of heading to off-island malls in the suburbs.”
As the multi-million square foot project will include a theatre, six office towers and another 1.5 million square feet of retail floor space that will include restaurants, a water-park, five hotels and a children’s amusement park, Murielle Zaguri told The Suburban that the Royalmount project represents the future of retail business in the 21st century. While she admits that on-line shopping has become a fierce ‘contender’ in the retail environment, she also believes that the Royalmount project will provide the proper ‘environment’ “...that will persuade millions of potential customers to leave their computers,” in order “...to come out and see what’s going on at Royalmount.”
Based upon all of the extensive research that’s already been done over the past four years, Marcotte also believes the plan to build 6000 new residential units will soon become a key element that will define the project’s success, because the new community will become the ‘critical mass’ that will help define Royalmount as a part of the city, “...and not apart from the rest of the city.”
As the city’s executive committee member responsible for urban development and transportation, Councillor Eric Caldwell admits that the Plante administration is concerned about the effects the Royalmount project will have on both traffic and assorted commercial viability issues throughout the city. However, he also acknowledged that the city’s desperate need for more social housing could also change the project’s impact upon its neighbors and the immediate area in the city’s assorted west end cities and boroughs.
“It’s a preoccupation we have in Montreal to create complete neighborhoods,” he said. “And the best way to reduce the impact on the island’s traffic is to reduce commuting distance between where people live and where they work.”
To that end, some might consider the city’s initial grim interpretation of the Carbonleo traffic impact as little more than the beginning of a long and serious negotiation between the Plante administration for more public housing in return for the agglomeration’s permission to proceed with their plans for their new development.