A declaration by Montreal city council takes direct aim at mayoral contender Denis Coderre’s proposal to allow skyscrapers taller than Mount Royal.
The mountain is what makes the city unique, and the construction of towers that would hide it from view must not be allowed, says the declaration adopted Monday.
“We don’t plan to eliminate the current height limits downtown and we oppose any attempt to block the view of Mount Royal by a private development that would turn Montreal into a city like any other,” said Mayor Valérie Plante when she tabled the declaration.
She noted that the need to preserve views of the mountain has been a cornerstone of urban planning policy since 1992.
Coderre, mayor from 2014 to 2017, announced his political comeback on March 28. In a new book, Retrouver Montréal (Rediscovering Montreal), he attributes his loss to Plante to a personal crisis that has led him to reinvent himself, shedding more than 100 pounds through dieting, boxing and biking.
He claims that Montreal must think vertically rather than horizontally to create a “world class” downtown. Coderre proposes to sweep aside zoning limits and allow new construction to soar higher than the cross on Mount Royal.
In an interview with the Montreal Gazette three weeks ago, heritage advocate Phyllis Lambert slammed the proposal, saying it goes against Montreal’s DNA.
Lionel Perez of Coderre’s Ensemble Montréal party accused the administration of using the declaration to attack Coderre.
He defended his chief’s high-rise vision and accused Projet Montréal of refusing to “dream big for our city.”
“We have to stop seeing the city as a mosaic of neighbourhoods stuck together,” Perez said.
“Why wouldn’t Montreal take part in the trend of innovative, large cities around the world that are reaching new heights?” he said.
Maintaining current height limits to protect views of the mountain “is not viable either for the environment or for public finances,” Perez said.
“The mountain of Mont Royal is an emblematic gem that must be valued but it should not be a barrier to having an ambitious city,” he said.
Council also adopted a declaration calling on the Quebec government to protect tenants from eviction and abusive rent increases. It proposes the creation of a central registry of leases, to prevent landlords from increasing rents illegally when a new tenant moves in.
Marvin Rotrand, the independent councillor for Snowdon, said tenants have come to him with heartbreaking stories of losing their homes. Giuliana Fumagalli, the borough mayor of Montréal’s Villeray–Saint-Michel–Parc-Extension, said she would have liked to see the declaration go even further in defence of tenants.
LaSalle borough mayor Manon Barbe said she became aware of abusive practices by landlords when her daughter rented an apartment in the Plateau and conditions became unbearable after the building was sold. Last month, a photo that went viral on Facebook showed a huge lineup of people wanting to visit an apartment in Verdun.