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Tensions boil as residents continue fight against Hampstead demolition project

Anger and frustration boiled over Monday evening at a public consultation in Hampstead, over a contentious zoning bylaw that would allow the demolition of a low-rent housing complex to build high-end apartments.

“I don’t care, you will not disrupt this meeting,” shouted Hampstead mayor William Steinberg during the meeting.

“We have the right to be frustrated and you have to be a little understanding,” a resident responded.

The tension mounted while residents were trying to understand the procedures to reach a referendum, and ultimately block the demolition project.

During the meeting, city officials explained the next steps residents must take if they want to stop the demolition.

READ MORE: ‘It’s a lot of tax revenue’: Hampstead mayor reiterates support for housing demolition project

They have until August 27 to gather a minimum of 12 signatures per zones that are directly adjacent to the project, explained the town’s Urban Planning division chief, Julien Tardy-Laporte.

The zones with enough signatures will then qualify for a registry, which will be held on October 2, according to the city.

If approximately 10 per cent of the residents of a particular zone sign the registry, the council could then decide to hold a referendum — in which case residents could vote the project down.

WATCH: Hampstead tenants mount legal challenge following ‘illegal’ vote in favour of demolition

The project has been contested by many residents who fear the loss of affordable housing in Hampstead.

Others who oppose the project argue the new 90-unit building would block their view and create undesirable shadows.

Steinberg has been openly in favour of the project.

But many residents called him out for his lack of empathy.

READ MORE: Hampstead postpones decision on demolition request for affordable housing complex

“It’s only in his interest,” said Fabiola Gomez, who has lived in Hamsptead for 42 years. “There’s nothing for the city, nothing for the residents. It’s nice things for him and for his group.”

Earlier this month, a bailiff delivered a legal letter to Steinberg from the tenants’ lawyer, stating that a vote on a proposal to demolish the apartment complex was illegal.

The move comes after Steinberg vetoed a three-to-two council vote against the project in July.

Another vote was held August 5. This time, the resolution to support the project narrowly passed after Steinberg broke a tie by voting in favour.

If a referendum goes through, residents will be able to vote on November 27.

— With files from Global News’ Phil Carpenter

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