Parc-Extension Residents Protest at Borough Hall Against Luxury Apartments

Protesters Hope for Rejection of Construction Permits

On Thursday evening, Parc-Extension residents gathered in front of the Villeray—Saint-Michel—Parc Extension city hall during the borough’s Comité consultatif d’urbanisme meeting to protest the gentrification of a local building into luxury apartments. Photo Elisa Barbier.

A group of Parc-Extension residents came to protest the construction of high-end apartments at Hutchison Plaza at the Villeray–Saint-Michel–Parc-Extension borough hall Thursday night.

At the same time, plans for a 70-unit luxury apartment complex by the new owner of the former multipurpose community building Ron Basal were being considered at a consultation on urbanism.

“For years we’ve been trying to get social housing, and housing for families, and what do we get? We get a slumlord who decides that he wants to take a piece of our neighbourhood and turn it into whatever he wants!” yelled Adeel Hayat—who’s lived in the neighborhood for 12 years—through a megaphone.

Hutchison Plaza has housed places of worship, family-run businesses, an aid centre for immigrants, as well as a radio station, and sits just across the street from Parc Metro station.

Now, only a small number of the tenants remain in the building. The rest have been evicted on short notice, and the remaining will soon be kicked out.

Protesters later came inside to deliver a letter with a list of their demands, but the small group of 20 was soon pushed out by police officers.

Basal hopes to get a permit from the borough so construction in the building can continue. Twice in the summer Montreal police had to come in to halt construction, TC Media reported, since construction was being done with missing permits.

The borough will give their final say on whether to grant him the remaining permit at a council meeting on Feb. 6.

Amy Darwish and others who came out were disappointed to find out the meeting was not open to the public, and that there was little consultation with the public.

“It’s not open to any community consultation, there’s absolutely no transparency,” said Darwish, who works with a support group for the tenants remaining in the building.

Many are also concerned about their neighbourhood becoming gentrified.

One of the upper floors of the Hutchison Plaza. Photo Brian Lapuz

Protesters hope the city won’t approve the permits. They want the evictions to stop, that those who have already been evicted be allowed to return, and want to see the building remain a space for the community.

Stéphanie Guay, who also works with the support group for the tenants remaining in the building, thinks Basal is being neglectful to the building on purpose so that it’ll convince remaining tenants to leave sooner.

“He’s basically trying everything he can to intimidate people to leave, even though he knows he’s not in his right,” said Guay.

Earlier this month, Basal warned those remaining that electricity and other utilities would be cut off on Jan 8.

The Link visited the building on Jan. 8, but utilities appeared to still be running, but the building was in obvious disrepair. Only half of the floors were heated, and a broken freight elevator used by the owner of a furniture store to transport her furniture to clients has been broken since March when the basement was flooded.

Guay and Darwish also say that Basal has repeatedly spread misinformation to the media, in particular by saying that tenants were not paying rent.

The Link has made repeated attempts to reach out to borough mayor Giuliana Fumagalli for comment, but without success.

In late December, the borough said through email they were following the situation closely and would make sure no construction is done until the real estate developer “adjusted” its permit application.