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Injured DDO resident fights city on $15K of Tempo fines

Charlotte Gibson with her service dog Onyx.

Charlotte Gibson and the City of Dollard-des-Ormeaux are at loggerheads, and neither is backing down.

At issue is the Tempo – the temporary carport that some Montreal areas allow and others do not – that Gibson has been putting up in her driveway for the past five winters.

The City of Montreal and its boroughs do indeed allow the temporary shelters, with some guidelines as to height and width, and distance from the sidewalk or street. But the shelters are not permitted in West Island communities like DDO, Pointe-Claire, Beaconsfield, Kirkland, and others.

Dollard-des-Ormeaux argues that it’s a question of snow clearing and safety, that if they did allow tempos, the possible problems they could cause would cost the city up to $500,000 a year.

At this point, the ban has cost Gibson somewhere between $13,000 and $15,000 in fines – which she has refused to pay – plus at least $10,000 in lawyer’s fees.

The fight has been going on for some time. Gibson slipped on ice, as it happens, in 2015, breaking bones in her leg. Gibson says doctors have told her that the resulting injuries have affected 20% of her leg and 8% of her body, and exacerbated her asthma. She has become dependent on friends and neighbours, and on her service dog. There have even been times, she tells The Suburban, when weather conditions had left her trapped inside her car, waiting for her husband to come home and rescue her.

They first put up a shelter in 2018. The warnings and fines quickly followed and began piling up. Gibson says she’s asked for permits, and had even gone to a council meeting with doctors’ notes in tow. She and her husband, Peter Buchanan, have also consulted with the Quebec Human Rights Commission.

Gibson says she is as independent as she can be, but that a tempo would mean that she would not have to depend on others as much as she does now.

“I want to continue working. I want to continue living.”

Gibson and Buchanan are long-time West Island residents. They have been living in their current home for 25 years. “I love my house,” she says. “and they’re basically telling me I’d have to move.”

Gibson says she has no problem with it when others do get to put up temporary shelters, be it businesses or even the city itself. She would just like the same consideration for those who, like her, depend on a shelter for quality of life.

Her next court date in May 30.

"Give it all back!":Residents push CDN/NDG on Hippodrome

“Give it all back.”

Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough council regular Sharon Freedman has a solution to the quandary that has stymied Montreal’s plans to develop the Hippodrome.

“Mayor Plante received $69 million from the federal government,” for housing, said Freedman, who cited reports of zero takers in the private sector to develop a second lot put up for sale, because of elevated costs and industry-wide acknowledgement that the city has offered no picture of what the overall plan is.

The city put out the second call in October, the 4,200 sq.-metre lot priced at $10 million, and received no submissions. “No one knows so no one will build,” said Freedman. “What will be next door?”

Freedman told CDN-NDG Borough Mayor Gracia Kasoki Katahwa that “money should not be given without all three levels of government agreeing on a plan,” adding the current administration “has not delivered on promises of more police, permanent housing for the homeless and won’t deliver on affordable and social housing for CDN-NDG.”

In fact, the $69 million in federal cash over 10 years is for renovating social housing and has been earmarked for more than 4,500 existing units. Katahwa took issue with the characterization and said since taking office her administration has worked “to improve the quality of life for citizens.”

Côte-des-Neiges resident Michael Shafter told The Suburban that the Quebec-Montreal deadline agreement is looming for action on the 75-acre Hippodrome lot, and Montreal risks losing “an incredible $100 million opportunity” because of administration inaction. “They need a shovel in the ground!”

Katahwa said the private sector’s response is only half the story: “The non-profit organizations submitted many projects and we’re analyzing them right now. So that is working.” The city put the first Hippodrome lot up for sale exclusively to community organizations in September, with a minimum requirement for 60% affordable units for at least 30 years. Valued at nearly $20 million and priced at $4.5 million, some 200 homes are expected to be delivered by September 2025.

As for private builders, she says, “we are going to return to the table and make sure we have a better offer for them,” adding, “we will continue to work hard to make sure that the number one priority of the people of Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce is addressed.”

Pressed by Freedman for the number of housing units “renovated or built in the past five years,” the mayor paused and responded, “in Montreal it’s 12,000 but in Côte-des-Neiges-NDG I don’t have the specific number. I can come back to you with the specific number for our area if that’s the answer you’re looking for.”

Later, in response to resident Carl Hamilton’s concerns about composition of housing and the future of the borough, Katahwa said she is working with colleagues and stakeholders “to make sure that we not only develop housing but the whole economic ecosystem,” as part of the borough’s engagement to ensure people have places to live and places to work. “We’re going to reach out to economic partners to make sure that this is part of the vision for the Hippodrome, and other sectors as well.”