Consultation process on the development of a peripheral district of Montreal
The objective of this project is to consolidate a strategic peripheral sector of the city's downtown area by intensifying and diversifying urban activities. The transformation of this part of the city into an innovative and distinctive neighborhood was intended to enable the city to contribute to the achievement of its objectives, particularly in terms of ecological transition.
Public consultation's objective
An adapted and rigorous governance, anchored in the community, was planned to ensure the success of this urban project. An early public consultation on the vision and principles was the main instrument for success in order to :
- share the knowledge gathered about the area, in particular, to enable the population to have a good understanding of the issues and challenges it presents create a place for stakeholders (citizens, workers, city partners, future residents
- to meet and share ideas for the redevelopment of the former racetrack site;
- discuss the issues and problems that had to be faced in developing the sector;
- discuss the development vision and the principles that would have guided the development of the sector;
- ensure the transparency of the planning process and the consistency of the planning approach;
- benefit from the expertise, credibility, reputation and neutrality of the Office de Consultation Publique de Montréal (OCPM) in holding public consultations.
Citizen participation was extensive: 2,800 participations were recorded during the various stages of the process. The organizing committee received and heard 135 opinions and took into consideration some 788 respondents to the online questionnaire.
As the hearing sessions took place shortly before the start of the pandemic crisis, the committee was not able to benefit from the citizens' reading of the context or to take account of public opinion on several of the topics raised during the consultation, a process that was foreseen in the initiative.
This project therefore envisaged a vision for the development of the Namur Hippodrome district. Due to its proximity to public transport access points and its strategic location, this area was to be transformed from an agricultural area into a truly mixed-use neighborhood that contributes to the objectives of ecological resilience and the reduction of the car's place in the city.
Support was given to the construction of a neighborhood that is characterised by community engagement and where sustainable mobility is at the heart of the development. The administration wanted to make a change in mobility, which could result in a significant reduction in the role of the car in favor of a design that gives priority to pedestrians and cyclists. It was also proposed that community facilities and multi-functional public spaces should be established to meet the varied needs of the population, and that generous green spaces should be provided.
This vision was implemented according to the following development principles:
- A low footprint, carbon neutral, innovative and community-based neighbourhood;
- A complete, diverse and inclusive living environment with a family-friendly lifestyle;
- Active and collective mobility as the foundation of a neighborhood open to the city;
- A network of integrated green and public spaces, the basis of the neighbourhood's spatial organisation;
- A renewed sense of place.
These principles have received a rather positive reception, but with differences depending on whether the views are expressed from a metropolitan or local perspective.
The consultation by the OCPM
The activities carried out by the Office de Consultation Publique de Montréal, the independent institution in charge of organizing consultation processes in the city of Montréal, within the framework of this consultation were aimed at a diversity of publics and stakeholders of the Namur-Hippodrome project.
The citizen consultation is composed of different phases:
- The information session: during this session, the City presented its vision for the future Namur-Hippodrome neighbourhood. About 30 people asked questions to the City's representatives. More than 570 people viewed the session via webcast or replay;
- Consultation workshops: two invitational consultation workshops were held. The first focused on economic and commercial activities. Twenty-three people responded to the commission's invitation. The second focused on mobility and connectivity. Fourteen people attended.
- The citizen's forum entitled "Innovative and Sustainable Neighborhoods": organized with the aim of nourishing and stimulating collective reflection on the vision and principles put into play by the City of Montreal, the forum opened with a conference by Karine Gessner, Director of Housing and City Policy of Bordeaux in France, who presented the broad outlines of Bordeaux's policy on social housing in new neighborhood and urban renewal projects. Then there were lectures and panel discussions, followed by creative workshops. The event attracted 195 people. The lectures were viewed by 829 people via webcast or replay. Fifty people participated in one or more of the thematic creative workshops.
- Questionnaire: In this phase, 788 people were asked to express their views on the characteristics to be prioritized for the future district and on the attractiveness of the implementation principles formulated by the City.
- Online opinions: Over the course of a month, a series of open-ended questions, prepared by the commissioners (responsible for the facilitation of the consultation and writing the final report) and grouped into six themes, offered participants the opportunity to express their opinions online on the following topics: green neighbourhood, living environment, mobility, green spaces, neighborhood identity, and others. Fifty-seven opinions were collected.
- Hearing of opinions: the consultation process ended with the holding of four sessions of hearing of opinions, which were an opportunity for all those who wished to do so to present their opinions concerning the future Namur-Hippodrome district to the commission.
Once the consultation process is complete, the OCPM, through the commissioners in charge of the project, prepares a report containing recommendations and proposals for improving the project. This report is sent to the mayor of the city, as well as to all city council and borough officials for their consideration in the final approval of the urban development project.
Sources (in english) :
Website of the Consultation for the Namur-Hippodrome Area
Namur-Hippodrome Area - Summary of the vision and development principles
Public Consultation - video