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Possible residential development in Ormstown raises public concern

The municipality of Ormstown is booming. The population has grown by over 250 people in the past five years and there is growing demand and need for housing. All of the properties in the Vallée-des-Outardes development have now been sold, with only a few dwellings still to be constructed. There are no less than four residential development projects currently being studied that, according to Ormstown mayor Jacques Lapierre, will see an average of about 100 homes being built per year for the next five to six years.

There are plans to create more rental units as well as single-family and semi-detached homes, townhouses, and condo buildings in locations throughout the municipality including on Isabelle Street (Madeleine), the 3e Rang and Geddes Street, and near the Restaurant Au Toit Vert. “We are stirring things up a bit,” admits the mayor, but he says growth is necessary to be able to provide quality services to citizens. “It is good for the municipality and good for the MRC,” he explains.

In the spring edition of the Ormstown Voice, Lapierre explains that recent development projects have already allowed the municipal budget to increase by at least $1.1 million over the last four years alone. “Future developments will allow for additional amounts in the order of $27 million over 30 years, which technically could allow for the construction of a municipal garage, a new and modern fire station, and an arena without any increase in taxes,” he says.

There are plans for a new water treatment facility that would be able to accommodate a growing population. “We are starting to be able to say that we have a vision,” Lapierre says, which he considers to be a legacy that will be passed on to future mayors.

Citizens wary

A possible housing project on the chemin de la Rivière-aux-Outardes has raised concerns within the municipality that the drive for growth may be going too far. A proposal to develop a vacant wooded lot had been under review by the municipal council, after a request for amendments to a zoning by-law was submitted that would allow a Longueil-based promoter to clear the property and build multi-family dwellings of six to 16 units. The modifications would have increased the allowable height permitted for the buildings as well as their footprint, meaning the developers were asking to allow for a greater density of housing than would currently be permitted.

 

Eric Bourdeau, Elisa Murray and Alain Gaulin have all expressed concern and frustration over the possible razing by developers of a wooded property and century home on the chemin da la Rivière-aux-Outardes in Ormstown. PHOTO Elisa Murray

 

The proposed changes to the by-law had been included on the agenda for the regular council meeting on May 3. However, the council voted unanimously to withdraw the draft by-law after the municipality received notice that 12 individuals had opposed the adoption of the by-law, the necessary number to force a referendum.

It was Ormstown resident Alain Gaulin who began knocking on doors to secure the number of signatures required, after learning of the request to modify the zoning by-law and develop the property. Gaulin, who lives nearby, says he opposes the project as proposed by Gestion Imseel Inc., the promoter that purchased the land in 2020, as it would mean clearing the property which currently includes a densely wooded area, a century-old home, and abandoned agricultural buildings. The same company is currently promoting a project that includes the development of “six-plexes” on Route 209 in Saint-Antoine-Abbé.

“I understand the municipality’s problem and the reliance on property taxes for income,” says Gaulin, who is sensitive to the need for development, “[but it is] ridiculous to keep destroying the environment to build more buildings,” he says, noting the piece of land includes hundreds of trees. “There is a lot of life there,” he explains.

Preserving wooded areas

Eric Bourdeau, whose mother lives next door to the property, posted on Facebook an impassioned plea for help to stop the land from being developed. The video has since been viewed by over 3,500 people, with comments expressing concern and frustration over the speed at which the municipality is growing.
“I can’t believe the mayor of Ormstown is going to go through and let this place get demolished to build apartment buildings,” he says, while walking around the extensive wooded property with a view of the Chateauguay River. “There is no reason to destroy all this,” he says.

Elisa Murray, whose father Michael Murray lived in the home on the property for over 40 years, says Bourdeau’s story is close to her heart. “I have great memories of this house and this wonderful land,” she says, while explaining she and her father planted many of the trees on the property over 35 years ago.
Mayor Lapierre understands the concerns voiced by citizens and says the fact that the by-law was withdrawn shows the municipality is listening. “The project … is on hold,” he confirms. “We are not going forward with the project as presented.”

At this time, Lapierre insists that a new project has not been submitted and that no building permits have been issued. But he acknowledges the promoter will almost certainly try again.

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