Opposition stirring in response to Île Gagnon development project

Luxury condos and resort would be built at former home of Céline Dion

After several years of relative peace with its urban development dossiers, the City of Laval’s administrators and elected officials are facing a possible public backlash over a developer’s plans to convert a small island in the Rivière des Mille Îles – which was once the home of internationally-acclaimed singer Céline Dion – into a luxurious private resort.

Next to public park

While it’s not the first time a developer has set its sights on transforming the island, the task of turning Île Gagnon into an exclusive luxury destination is made all the more challenging by the fact it is located directly across a small inlet from the Parc de la Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, a public wildlife reserve where access is open to everyone.

According to initial plans by property developer François Duplantie, 700 condos, a hotel, a spa, a gym and two restaurants would be 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.

Opposition gathering

Although the City of Laval is currently conducting a poll among residents of the area to determine their support or opposition to the project, some members of the Laval city council opposition already are rejecting it outright.

The massive gates to the private Île Gagnon property where Céline Dion once lived, and where a developer wants to build an exclusive resort. Photo: Martin C. Barry

While acknowledging that the project will bring in massive investment and help improve services in Sainte-Rose, independent city councillor for Saint-Bruno David De Cotis launched an opposing petition last week, while also demanding that the city hold a full public consultation.

In an interview this week with The Laval News, Mayor Marc Demers said nothing has been decided at this point, although the developer has yet to formally apply to the city for permission to begin his project.

No commitment, says Demers

“We have insisted to the developer that he make a presentation on his own,” said Demers. “There is no obligation on his part, although we wanted the presentation to be up to certain standards. And at one point residents of Sainte-Rose were even invited to take part. But there is nothing more we can do until the developer comes to us asking for construction permits.”

Demers said the poll will help the city make a decision about the project. “Unfortunately, there is a lot of disinformation now taking place on social media,” he said. “The course we decide to take will be guided by our surveys and by public opinion. But at this point there is no commitment on our part towards this developer one way or the other.”

In a last minute development on Tuesday as we went to press, the City of Laval announced that the closing date for the survey underway in Ste-Rose has been postponed to July 31. The intial deadline had been July 12.