City halts projects

Île Gagnon vision would include five-star hotel, spa, apartments, restaurant and 70 percent of the lush and wildlife area undeveloped

The city has put the brakes on two large real estate projects.

Based on a six-week online poll, the Île Gagnon and Place Sainte-Rose developments have not achieved “social acceptability” by citizens, says Laval Mayor Marc Demers.

With 1,811 citizens responding to the survey by a private firm hired by the city, the final report is yet to be published, but preliminary results show 75 percent of respondents are unfavourable to the Île Gagnon plan and 63 percent unfavourable to Place Sainte-Rose.

Demers said the city will have to modify the projects and get community support to move forward. Either way, he says, “without social acceptability, the promoter must return to the drawing board.”

In June, the Olymbec and IGSR consortium invited some 5,000 residents to participate in an online consultation and presentation of its projects. Place Saint-Rose project would rise at the southeast corner of Labelle and Sainte-Rose boulevards before the bridge to Rosemère, adding some 900,000 square feet of living space and an event hall, along with a hotel, seniors’ residence, and CHSLD. The project would also include some 1500 parking spaces.

On Île Gagnon on Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, the vision is one of a prestigious international village and includes, along with the original manor built by Céline Dion and René Angelil, a wellness centre, residences, five-star hotel, spa and more, maintaining public access to the bulk of the island’s green space, with some 30 percent of the island’s square footage being developed. Current zoning of Île Gagnon allows only limited development, substantially similar to what a protective condition would allow.

The developer responded to the results, François Duplantie telling The Suburban for more than four years, IGSR worked with the city to present projects that would meet Laval’s Urban by nature vision, and the June presentation “was the result of these exchanges with the city,” adding, “we plan to work with the city and citizens in a co-design process to improve the project and make it acceptable for all.”

Sensing fierce opposition to the projects early on, Official Opposition leader Michel Trottier suggested the best compromise to break the impasse and salvage the project could include the city buying about 70 percent of the surface area of Île Gagnon for protection and green space purposes.

It is possible in 2020, says Duplantie, to carry out a real estate project of this scale in an eco-responsible fashion. “Construction technologies and protection methods for fragile environments exist today. We have examples elsewhere in the world and we intend to be one as well. These projects will be done with and for the citizens.”

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