The housing crisis hardly moves some citizens of Pierrefonds who have managed to block the addition of 111 housing units right next to the Sunnybrooke REM station in a devitalized sector of Gouin Boulevard.

“The project is completely abandoned,” said Maxime Laporte, Vice President Real Estate Development at Quorum, visibly disappointed. Something we are proposing that is in perfect harmony with the PMAD [Metropolitan Land Use and Development Plan], densification, TOD areas [public transport hub], diversity and which is being said no. This is a fairly striking example of the “not in my backyard” phenomenon, laments the promoter.

The lot next to the station will thus continue to be occupied by an old garage and a small unoccupied industrial building.

“If there is a PMAD and cities that promote [density around train stations], why is it up to a private developer, for a completely obsolete garage, to go and fight for two years to offer this that the government, the PMAD and all the bodies are proposing? he asks himself, discouraged.

The failure above all casts doubt on the ability of municipal power on the island of Montreal to authorize housing projects which society urgently needs, according to a broker who specializes in the sale of residential land.

“For a client, I looked at a piece of land in the same neighborhood to build 200 homes on. When he saw that the Quorum project was jumping at the last minute after two years of effort and expense, my client preferred to look in Laval and on the South Shore. Montreal, for him, is too many problems, testifies Daniel Losier, broker at Century 21.

However, the borough of Pierrefonds-Roxboro supported the six-storey project by promoter Quorum, in vain.

The official speaks knowingly. For 10 years, according to him, three-quarters of the projects that require zoning changes (through a PPCMOI – specific projects for the construction, modification or occupation of a building) have been blocked by the citizens of Pierrefonds-Roxboro. “It’s a widespread evil in many municipalities,” he says.

In response to the high rejection rate, the borough changed its procedure to consult the population beforehand even before the adoption of the project by the elected members of the council. This is the new procedure that was followed in the case of the project at 9720-9730 boulevard Gouin Ouest, at the intersection of boulevard Gouin Ouest and boulevard Sunnybrooke.

“With a direct mail campaign, we reached 605 households who had access to the documentation relating to the project grouped into 4 themes detailed by 17 questions and open to comments from citizens for 30 days, explains Mr. Quesnel.

“In general, 75% of the population, it’s not pranks, found the project very good or good, underlines the head of division. We had a good bond. »

On the strength of this support, the council ratified a first draft by-law in August 2022, then a second, the following month. The public consultation, which follows, attracts a handful of citizens, another encouraging sign.

“I don’t know of any council that is going to a referendum on a PPCMOI. It’s the same cost as a general election,” says Quesnel.

“Another quick money pass by Pierrefonds, which is trying to maximize everything in a small space,” wrote citizen Suzanna Peterson on the borough’s collaborative platform.

“Six stories is way too high; two floors at most. Absolutely no privacy for the owners on Andras Street [facing the project on the other side of the railway line]! We don’t need more than 111 cars,” she wrote.

Mr. Quesnel draws the lesson that cities are ill-equipped to translate government directions on density into reality because of the referendum approval process. He bases hope on Law 16 in force since July 2, which restricts this power.

While waiting to know its concrete effects, motorists in Pierrefonds will still be able to enter their car in the garage at the Sunnybrooke REM station.