Most residents oppose Île Gagnon redevelopment, says survey

Developer has to modify rejected plan before city will consider it

With the preliminary results of a recent poll on the redevelopment of Laval’s Île Gagnon suggesting a majority of nearby residents oppose the project, officials with the City of Laval say the city will not be dealing with the developer’s current plans and will be refusing a zoning change the company had requested.

“The position of the city has not changed since the beginning: the developer’s project must have the requisite social accessibility in order for it to be implemented,” Mayor Marc Demers said this week in a statement. “Therefore the developer will have to modify his projects and obtain the support of the community in order to move forward.”

Not going ahead: Dufour

Sainte-Rose city councillor and executive-committee member Virginie Dufour said that in as much as she needed to stay neutral while the survey was underway, she hadn’t commented up to now, but was finally ready to make a statement.

The luxury development on Île Gagnon would be located immediately next to the Parc de la Rivière-des-Mille Îles, which is a public outdoor recreation area accessible to everyone. Photo: Martin C. Barry

“Now that we know that the projects do not have the support of the citizens, I want to assure them that we are not moving ahead with the projects in their current form,” she said. “I understand that the citizens have at heart the protection of their environment, a value that I share and that I defend at every opportunity.

“Finally, I would like to assure the citizens of my district of the fact that the present zoning of Île Gagnon only allows limited development, which is somewhat similar to what would be allowed with a protected status,” she added.

Initial plans rejected

According to the initial plans by property developer François Duplantie which have now essentially been rejected, 700 condos, a hotel, a spa, a gym and two restaurants would have been built on Île Gagnon starting in 2022. A second phase of the project would take place later in nearby Sainte-Rose where development would include 970 apartments or condos, a retirement residence, a CHSLD and an entertainment auditorium.

Although it’s not the first time a developer has set its sights on transforming Île Gagnon, the task of turning the island into an exclusive luxury destination seemed challenging due to the fact it is located immediately adjacent to the Parc de la Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, a public wildlife reserve where access is open to everyone.

Developer’s statement

In a statement issued by property developer François Duplantie, he said the survey outcome had been expected. “We hear the citizens affected by the projects and we are willing to work with them and with the city to make the projects more socially acceptable,” Duplantie said.

‘The developer will have to modify his projects and obtain the support of the community,’ says Mayor Marc Demers

Duplantie said it was his company’s hope to work with the city and local residents on a “co-design” approach to the projects in order to make them acceptable to everyone. “Our primary motivation is the preservation and the protection of the environment and we are determined to demonstrate that we can achieve this here in Laval in 2020,” he said.

CRE de Laval’s position

The Conseil régional de l’environnement (CRE) de Laval also issued a statement. In it, they asked the City of Laval to maintain the current zoning of Île Gagnon, in accordance with the revised land use and development plan, as adopted by City of Laval in August 2017 and the Quebec government in December 2017.

“We would also like to highlight the fact that notwithstanding its new urban designation, Île Gagnon is still included in a peculiar ecological planning area for which the city is committed to create living environments that promote the well-being of Laval citizens and the protection of biodiversity and to limit tree felling,” the CRE said.

Heritage issue, CRE says

“Moreover, still according to the revised land use and development plan, the archipelago of the Rivière-des-Mille-Îles that includes Île Gagnon remains an integral part of heritage places of metropolitan interest,” they added.

“Even though City of Laval has modified the designation status of Île Gagnon, we are asking that the existing guidelines of the revised land use and development plan are respected and that regulations resulting from these guidelines get elaborated.”