Pointe-Claire council reversed course Tuesday when it voted unanimously to adopt a sweeping Interim Control draft bylaw which now includes the massive Cadillac Fairview parking lot project.
The reversal comes just two weeks after council voted to exclude the Cadillac Fairview mall zone (also known as MU1) from the freeze at a special council meeting.
At the April 19, meeting six of eight councillors voted to remove the Cadillac Fairview mall zone from a draft bylaw of the temporary freeze.
But on Tuesday, councillors Tara Stainforth, Brent Cowan, Cynthia Homan, and Eric Stork flip-flopped on their previous decision to give Cadillac a pass.
Councillors Paul Bissonnette and Kelly Thorstad-Cullen also voted to exclude the developer from the freeze two weeks ago. However, Thorstad-Cullen was absent from Tuesday’s meeting and Bissonnette recused himself from the vote because he resides in a zone covered by the freeze.
As for switching his vote to include CF in the freeze, Cowan said the interim control bylaw does “not take the form I would have preferred, but I have to go along with it. It is much better we have it than we don’t have it. We do need it.
“We need to create a general overall pause in development in Pointe-Claire so we can … take stock, absorb, have time to recognize the changes that have gone on.”
Erin Tedford and Bruno Tremblay once again voted to keep the CF project within the freeze until the city revises its urban plan.
Mayor Tim Thomas said the adoption of the Interim Control bylaw was “a win for the citizens of Pointe-Claire.”
“This is all about giving the citizens a voice about the future development of Pointe-Claire,” he said.
Thomas said the freeze will put the brake on development in certain sectors of Pointe-Claire while the city updates its urban plan.
Brian Salpeter, CF’s senior vice-president of development, attended Tuesday’s meeting. He read a letter addressed to the mayor and council which challenged council’s decision to put the MU1 zone back into the freeze.
In March, Cadillac Fairview announced it was taking legal action against the city because of the freeze, and Salpeter said Tuesday the inclusion of the MU1 zone in the freeze “is simply not necessary.”
“The city and city council already have at their disposal all of the regulatory tools that give them oversight on the project and that would allow them to negotiate solutions with CF,” he said. “In fact, since 2019, CF and the city have been working on a draft of a development agreement in respect of the project. A draft agreement was provided to CF by the city manager on behalf of the city in May of 2021. This draft provides an excellent starting point for determining a framework and methodology for the development project in the MU1 area.”
Salpeter also said Pointe-Claire was lagging behind other West Island municipalities in terms of densification.
“Your use of the term ‘behind’ is quite interesting,” replied Thomas. “We had more green space available, which is why people moved here and we’d like to keep some of those spaces.”
“The level of densification that has occurred in the last four of five years was not to the liking of the bulk of our citizenry because they cherished that green space,” the mayor added.
Linda De Witt, a member of the Heart of Pointe-Claire citizens coalition, urged the city to do a comprehensive study of the city’s infrastructure needs, including roads and sewers, before approving any major projects.
“Will the roads stand the traffic, or do we need to build all new roads? Unless we study what are infrastructure is capable of before we start making plans of what we’re going to put on it, we’re lost.”
Representatives of two other developers, including Sotramont, asked council to reconsider the building freeze. However, many of the citizens in attendance urged the city to slow development.
Pointe-Claire council excludes Cadillac Fairview parking lot from building freeze
Pointe-Claire puts brakes on development with temporary freeze