After hearing from from over 300 people at meetings last June and reading 32 briefs, the Office de Consultation Publique de Montreal released its report on the proposed QuadrilatÃ¨re project slated to begin construction on the Lower Main next January. In brief, the report argues that the Angus Development Corporation is acting too hastily to push this project through and more reflection and a better plan are needed.
“I didn’t really know quite what to expect from the report,” said Velma Candyass of the Dead Doll Dancers, “so yes, we are pleased that they have taken into consideration the point of view of the artists and those who live, work and create in the area.” The Dead Dolls are among the many emerging artists who perform regularly in Café Cleopatra’s upstairs stage, which would be demolished under the Angus plan.
Dead Dolls Velma Candyass (left) and Felicity Fuckhard after speaking at the OCPM meetings
Burlesque and fetish performers, drag queens and kings along with heritage advocates, historians and average citizens have been speaking out for months against the plan which would gut three performance venues and replace them with an office tower, preserving only the facades. Under the banner of Save The Main, they are asking that those who are currently working and in some cases thriving in Montreal’s historic Red Light District be included in the plans to rebuild the area as part of the Quartier de Spectacles.
Their voices were heard at the public consultation meetings and now it is clear that the OCPM listened. According to procedure, the city’s executive committee is now supposed to take the recommendations, study them and make a final decision. A meeting of the executive committee is scheduled to discuss the report on Wednesday, but it still isn’t clear if the city will actually listen as well.
OCPM moderators listening
“Ahh the 167 million dollar question,” Candyass commented, “considering the city’s more recent history when it comes to construction deals, land deals, the water meter scandal, the Griffintown project, the sad demise of the Seville and situations in the past such as the Overdale or St Norbert quartiersâ€¦we can only hope that the recommendations are then followed.”
Mayor Gérald Tremblay has already come out strongly in favor of the plan and has not yet responded to the OCPM report. The fact that this is an election year could very well play into his response.
“He wants to show he is a Mayor who can get things done and projects completed,” Candyass observed, “if he follows the OCPM report recommendations, this project will be delayed. If he decides to ram this through, there will be very unhappy citizens and opposition parties yelling about this ill conceived project.”
“One of the big problems for Tremblay,” she added, citing the OCPM report, “is that he has a penchant for outsourcing projects to private development companies rather than using the civil servants who normally do such work because they are free of monetary conflict of interests.”
Forget The Box didn’t try and get a reaction from Angus, seeing as they already declined to give a comment on the report to both the Montreal Gazette and National Post, claiming they only just received it and “would study it before commenting.” This need for more time, in light of the urgency Angus had given to the project and the way they quickly organized a press conference and rallied their supporters following the consultation meetings, has Candyass and presumably others wondering.
“They have been saying there is no time to waste, that ground must be broken by January 2010,” she pointed out, “they have been quite aggressive in promoting an urgent time frame. Now they need time? Hopefully they can go back to the drawing board and come up with something better that does justice to the area and the people.”
Photos by Chris Zacchia