Community Contemplation: Citizen Journalism showcasing the Îlot Sainte-Catherine Ouest redevelopment

This piece was submitted to the Citizen Journal project of the Peter-McGill Community Council. Please note that the opinions expressed in these articles do not necessarily reflect those of our organisation. This project aims to create space for the voices of residents, students and friends of the neighbourhood through articles, photos, videos and podcasts (as well as other mediums).  Are you interested in contributing?  Contact us at  benevolat@petermcgill.org!

Community Contemplation: Citizen Journalism showcasing the Îlot Sainte-Catherine Ouest redevelopment

Preliminary street-level visualization - Image retrieved via l’Office de Consultation Publique de Montreal (OCPM)

Located along Sainte-Catherine Ouest, wedged in-between Rue Saint-Marc and Rue Du Fort, a mixed-use, in-fill development is imminent, and will alter the Peter-McGill district’s built environment. Pending municipal zoning amendments, the Îlot Sainte-Catherine Ouest redevelopment would include a residential tower housing 202 rental units, street-level commercial space, but also various amenities for tenants, and a green roof in an effort to compensate for the building’s contribution to the urban heat island. 


Furthermore, in terms of unit allocation, the project’s developer, Placement Sergakis, has committed to providing preferential treatment towards the 55+ community, has expressed the desire to include 27 affordable housing units on-site, and is to supply a range of family-sized units. However, due to an absence of social housing provisions, Placement Sergakis is to pay 725 000$ in monetary compensation towards the city.

Aerial view of the site - Image retrieved via OCPM

Before the foundation is dug and concrete is poured, the city must pass zoning amendments. Essentially these legal changes rearrange the terms and conditions of urban development, and symbolically reorient the city’s planning priorities by providing a sort of blueprint.  Guided by the objective of reanimating the adjacent stretch of Sainte-Catherines Ouest, the city is paying particular attention to the site and its relationship with its surroundings.

 Notably, in order for the Îlot Sainte-Catherine Ouest project to receive municipal approval, changes must be made to the city’s by-laws which regulate building height, urban density, green spaces, parking quotas, and site usage for the site and its surroundings. 

Proposed amendments to the City of Montreal’s Urban Plan’s maximum building heights for the site and its surroundings - Image retrieved via OCPM

As plans begin to surface, the city wishes to densify the site in question by raising height restrictions. With the Îlot Sainte-Catherine initiative, the city hopes to densify the stretch of Sainte-Catherines that hosts the site – all while suppressing the potential expansion of the surrounding area and preserving the visual integrity of neighbourhood’s built heritage. With changes looming over the district’s urban form and its social functions, community preoccupations are surfacing which include taking issue with the city’s planning priorities. 


Worthy of particular attention, is a debate that is gaining traction in the city, and especially in the Peter-McGill district, which revolves around the balancing of urban density and the conservation of local built heritage. As disclosed by Jean-Yves Bourdages – a local resident with a background and keen interest in urban planning – heritage buildings should be seen as more than mere facades, and effective conservation would reanimate historic spaces with contemporary functions. In regards to urban density, Bourdages articulates that the Îlot Sainte-Catherine Ouest in-fill project contributes to local densification as it fills a void on an arterial route.  He mentioned that the inclusion of family-sized units is a good start, but with neither social housing nor public programs to animate the neighbourhood, it is possible that these units experience difficulty within the real-estate market.

South-east facing view of Rue Sainte-Catherine Ouest / Rue Du Fort - Image retrieved via Google Maps

Accordingly, the Table de Quartier Peter-McGill identifies concerns regarding both the urban form and social functions of the project, whereas the Îlot Sainte-Catherine Ouest redevelopment fails to contribute meaningfully to local social housing shortages, and the deficit in accessible community service. The end result restricts future possibilities of densification, but by restricting housing stock, conditions may bring on real estate scarcity, which could ultimately culminate in a local rent hike. 

Moving forward, as the Office de Consultation Publique de Montreal (OCPM) follows through with its consultative forums, the Table de Quartier Peter-McGill will advocate for the public good on behalf of the Peter-McGill community. If you would like to learn more about the Îlot Sainte-Catherine Ouest redevelopment or wish to have your voice heard at the OCPM’s public consultation, please email mchapdelaine@petermcgill.org