Back in April last year, we wrote about this controversial development project in the Town of Mount Royal. Then we concluded that “it is likely that if opposition to the Royalmount project mounts and citizens mobilize against it, probably those who approved the development would have to change their decision. It seems then that the last word on the massive project has not been said yet.” A group of people opposed to the project is what intends to do. This past Sunday they have planned to raise the issue at a rally in front of the office of the Quebec Minister of Transport—the situation derived from COVID-19 prevented the realization of the event. However, the determination of those who have called the rally is still firm: “Not to Royalmount.”
Among those organizing the rally were Francoise Legris, member of Alliance Mont-Royal, a Citizen group in Town of Mount Royal; Jean-François Boisvert, Administrator of Coalition Climat Montréal; Claude Vaillancourt, President of the organization Attac-Québec, who recently published an open letter on the subject in Le Devoir; and Alix Ruhlmann.
We had the opportunity to talk to Ms. Ruhlmann who told us that despite the modifications to the initial project announced by the developer Carbonleo, “still the mall is not coherent with the environment, it is a luxurious project, and it would have a negative impact on existing businesses in the area.”
Asked about their demands, Ms. Ruhlmann said: “We want the provincial government to declare a moratorium on the project and the holding of proper consultations.” To our remark that the Town actually conducted such consultations, she replied that they were not done appropriately: “there was bad communication, the time wasn’t good, and the participation of citizens was not good either. What we need are open and democratic consultations. We want the Office de consultations publiques de Montréal (OCPM) involved in a new consultation process.”
The modifications offered by the developer are not enough either, said Ms. Ruhlmann: “There is no social housing included. We also want space in the mall for local and independent shops, not just stores for international shoppers.” Regarding the proposals for improved access to public transit, she says that there are no concrete suggestions as to how the access to the metro station would be paid, the same goes for the access to the adjacent highway. She also pointed out that although the construction of a big concert venue has been cancelled, some other big structures are still on the plan, in particular one devoted to holding e-games.
For his part, Mr. Vaillancourt in the letter published by Le Devoir decries the size of the projected underground parking: “(the project) hides a ‘reduced’ parking lot with 8,180 spaces (an underground parking lot? It would then be one of the largest in the world…).” And about the way the project is presented: “Everything looks like a beautiful green oasis, but surrounded by crowded, congested highways, with cars spitting out their share of carbon monoxide.”
Certainly, the controversy over the Royalmount project is far from disappearing. As the debate is heating, perhaps the wise thing to do is for developers and the municipal officials in TMR who green-lighted it, to go back to the drawing board.
Featured image: The green vision presented by the Royalmount developer is questioned by the opponents