Hampstead Mayor William Steinberg released the results of three studies regarding the potential redevelopment of its part of Côte St. Luc Road, where there are currently apartment buildings that are up to 75 years old.
Steinberg wrote that this will be followed by "at least one consultation meeting and then a survey.
"Aside from building heights on CSL Road, the survey will also cover many other items that we are considering for a new Urban Master Plan and we will be heavily influenced by your feedback from the survey."
In 2019, residents voted down an attempt to demolish and replace one of those buildings with a new residential complex. The town then commissioned three firms to produce studies regarding urban planning, tax revenue and traffic.
Steinberg wrote that the redevelopment would only apply to the buildings "between Stratford and the western limit of Hampstead — Alpine."
"The current buildings are 50-75 years old and many are in very poor condition," the Mayor wrote. "We need better quality new buildings to improve the look of the Hampstead part of CSL Road. Further, we need quality housing options for downsizing seniors and for young adults or young families. Finally, the extra tax revenue could be very significant and benefit the town in many ways."
Steinberg added that while he provided a summary of the studies, "I urge all residents to read the studies or at least the conclusions of each one."
The BC2 report looked at lot sizes and building heights — visual impact and shadowing for the latter.
"Based primarily on visual impact, they recommended six or eight storeys."
The Mayor wrote that the CIMA+ traffic study "showed that the increase in traffic will be trivial, even with 10- storey buildings along all of CSL Road."
Steinberg added The Altus Group tax revenue report determined that, at six storeys, "there is only a 16% chance of developers building and the expected extra tax revenue if 16% of the lots are redeveloped is $339,000 per year plus a one-time amount of $510,000 for transfer duties. At eight storeys, the probability of a property being developed rises to 42% and the expected new tax revenue would be $1,242,000 per year plus a one-time amount of $1,707,000 for transfer duties. At 10 storeys, the probability rises to 47% and the expected new tax revenue rises to $1,834,000 plus a one-time amount of $2,349,000 for transfer duties."
The Mayor wrote that an extra $1,834,000 of tax revenue each year from 10-storey buildings "would easily cover the debt service costs for a new recreation centre in Hampstead Park with funds left over for additional infrastructure maintenance (roads, sidewalks, sewers and water mains), more beautification of our public spaces, more play equipment, more events for kids, teenagers and adults, a tennis club house attached to the recreation centre, etc. all while keeping local tax increases below inflation."
Councillor Jack Edery reacted to the reports on the Hampstead Community Dialogue Facebook page, writing that he is not seeing anything new.
"I think the conversation regarding 10 storeys should have ended with the BC2 study," Edery wrote. "The Altus study shows the obvious conclusion that higher buildings lead to more tax revenue. I do not dispute that. I dispute the focus being solely on money and ignoring the negative impact on residents. I am not willing to sacrifice the few for the benefit of the many."
Steinberg's Facebook posting resulted attracted several comments from the public.
"These [original] buildings are indeed an abominable blight on the landscape," wrote Brandon Rudnikoff. "I have no reason to believe high rise buildings on Côte St. Luc road, which are entirely out of character for Hampstead, would look any better....Given the costs of holding another [referendum], I only hope that any consultation pays particular attention to the views of those who would have the right to vote in what is likely to be an inevitable repeat vote if we choose to ignore their concerns."
"Quit oppressing the minority," wrote Sofia Chesterfield.
"Read the BC2 study," wrote Aurelia LeTareau-Rudnikoff. "Ten and even eight storeys would look absolutely terrible. Shame on you to keep pushing this idea."
"I guess the mayor 'forgot' he lost the referendum on this issue [in 2019]," wrote Elana Beth.
"Anybody ever hear of quality of life?" wrote Donna Grostern. "Sometimes it trumps dollars."