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Evolo Condos in Montreal
François Cardinal, lurking in Toronto at the moment, looks at that city’s condo jungle and asks if we can avoid creating a similar wilderness of single-person households here.
david m, Chris, and Robert J are discussing. Toggle Comments
can we avoid creating it?? almost spat my tea onto my keyboard here. i don’t think any of us need lose much sleep over fears of a decade-long residential development boom in the central city. given the state of the market here, and montreal families’ strong aversion to downtown living, i don’t think there’s any possible way we could ever develop the leverage that vancouver or toronto has over their developers. we can’t even convince them to make the buildings look good, hah, they don’t even take zoning into account when planning downtown, they just plan what they want and get the derogations.
that said, if there is a way to increase our stock of family-friendly homes in montreal proper (and not the agglomeration parts or suburbs), it’s probably by allowing multi-story residential buildings again on the plateau and in saint-jacques – build taller (5-6 stories) in a popular area, on condition that the apartments be large, and without any parking (ousting the flat from luxury segment). especially on the plateau, there’s a lockdown on virtually any new development, leading both to increased rents and home prices for existing stock, and funneling development into downtown and south central montreal, where we witness the above effect.
Toronto’s big problem is that a lot of these towers are pinned against the lake by the Gardiner Expressway. The towers that are proposed in Montreal are in more mixed areas that already have a high level of commercial activity. I think the areas around Ste-Catherine, Rene-Lesvesque can easily absorb a handful of taller towers.
Toronto also has a serious lack of mid-rise construction, something Montreal’s always had more of. In TO, you likely live in a tower, or in a two story house. Montreal has a much richer stock of apartments than Toronto in this way.
So david m I don’t think we’re missing out here, although I do agree with you that more 5-6 story buildings in already established neighbourhoods is the best way to densify Montreal while providing quality housing. We should however prevent demolition of all pre-war buildings and certain particularly valuable post-war structures, and focus on building in parking lots and unused terrains vagues.
david m, regarding parking in new constructions: did you know that most everywhere in North America, governments require x parking places per unit and/or per floor space? Removing that requirement is vital. It’s already been rescinded in the Plateau, but not elsewhere in Montreal (I think). This means that even if developers want to meet a market desire for sans-parking condos, they can’t. So purchase prices subsidize parking, encouraging car use. :(
of course i know about parking minimums, and i have personal experience dealing with the plateau mont-royal borough. the trick in this case isn’t only to remove minimums as the plateau has (same as vancouver, manhattan, and other urbanism-forward locales), it’s to enforce limits: in the case of affordable new family-oriented construction on the plateau, zero parking spaces means not only no curb cuts or egresses, it means a less expensive construction project, as well as a narrower and less upscale market.
also, if we want to talk plateau borough specifics and the artificial land shortage, here are a few more barriers: absurdly low lot coverage maximums, meant to ensure green space and light, instead encouraging an unintensive land-use; a total ban on laneway entry in new construction, the chateaubriand type ruelles could never be built under today’s planning regime; fanatical ‘materials’ requirements that make it extremely difficult and expensive not to clad your building in brick; and, of course, height limits so extreme that it would be hard to find even a quack planner to defend them. intensive development around transit nodes? nope! intensive development along arterials? good one! the three story mafia put a horse in someone’s bed back in the 1980s and we’re all still living in terror.
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