Former philosophy seminary: Les amis are up in arms over minister St-Pierre's decision

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Conversion of the former Sulpicians’ philosophy seminary
Les amis de la montagne are up in arms concerning Minister St-Pierre’s decision to give consent to the private development project prior to the rendering of any decision by the municipal council
Montreal, November 29, 2009 – Les amis de la montagne learned through a newspaper article last Friday that Quebec’s Minister of Culture Christine St-Pierre, who is responsible for the Mount Royal Historic and Natural District, has given her consent to Development Cato’s private development project on the former Marianopolis College site prior to any decision being taken by the municipal council of the Ville de Montréal.
The Minister’s declaration is a highly unorthodox gesture regarding one of the most controversial dossiers in the mountain’s recent history. Since the decree of 2005, all projects on Mount Royal require final approval by the Minister of Culture, but only following the process of analysis and approval by the municipal authorities. In no other case to this day has the Minister made her opinion known before the decision of the municipal council. In the case of the conversion of the former Marianopolis College, Mayor Gérald Tremblay confirmed to representatives of Les amis de la montagne that the decision by the municipal council would not be taken before the November 1st election considering the controversy and the complexity of the project and that the Ville de Montréal would take the time necessary to orient the project. All the more astonishing to learn that the Minister has given her consent before the new municipal council has even held a post-election meeting.
The information is even more troubling, since Développement Cato, who during public consultations presented a construction project including 325 residential units and 671 parking places on an historic site of great value, has not received a permit allowing a zoning change from the current institutional to residential. The future of institutional properties on the mountain will be affected by the outcome of this dossier, since this project will serve as a test case for the hospitals, universities and religious congregations interested in selling their mountain properties in the not-too-distant future. All are following closely the results of this proposed conversion of the former philosophy seminary, that until recently belonged to the Sulpicians.
Does the 46 million dollar sale – with no conditions – of an institutional property to a private developer justify a different treatment of the established process? If the answer is yes, citizens of Quebec will quickly lose confidence in all of our democratic participatory structures currently in place.
Les amis de la montagne, who have yet to see the developers’ modifications to the project following the public consultations, are concerned about how the Ville de Montréal will proceed with its decision in light of Minister St-Pierre’s declaration and considering that fundamental elements regarding the protection of the mountain, such as the “mountain’s limited capacity to receive new construction”, the preservation of institutional properties on the mountain and the protection of green spaces are still not resolved.
This site is of too great an importance for the mountain and for future projects to deny a rigorous and transparent planning process in line with the governmental decree and the Mount Royal Protection and Enhancement Plan. 
Gabrielle Korn
Director of Communications
Les amis de la montagne
T: 514 843-8240 ext. 237


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