San Bruno will get denser… far from the city center

Territory condensation has not only followers. After Saint-Lambert, it was Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville, in Montérégie, to step in to preserve the one-family character of its city. On Tuesday evening, elected officials adopted an amendment to the zoning regulation to limit the height of new buildings in the city center to two stories.

Posted at 5:00 am

Susan Colbronne

Susan Colbronne

The mayor of San Bruno de Montarville has found a way to solve a seemingly unsolvable problem: condense his city while maintaining its homely feel at all costs.

the solution ? A strip condensation away from the heart of the city. In this case, 5 kilometers from downtown, across from Interstate 30.

Mayor Ludovic Grisé Farand, in an interview with Journalism.

To make that vision a reality, his administration on Tuesday night passed a strict amendment to the bylaw on zoning that would ban all new construction on two floors in the downtown core. Until now, buildings of three, four or five floors were allowed, to attract citizens and ensure the dynamism of the heart of the village.

Infographic of the press

Sources: City of San Bruno de Montarville and real estate agency CBRE

However, the Municipal Council reserves the right to award “extra floors” to some buildings.

“San Bruno is a city that has won many awards,” said the 30-year-old mayor, who was elected in November 2021.


Ludovic Grizzi Farand, Mayor of San Bruno de Montarville

San Bruno is known throughout Canada for its beauty, greenery, and joy of life. We want to keep that. So our vision is to keep the city center with personality. This means no five-story towers.

Ludovic Grizzi Farand, Mayor of San Bruno de Montarville

Isabel Birubi, an environmental and land conservation specialist and defeated candidate for mayor of San Bruno, points out instead: “In response, we will ramp up elsewhere, as the response has come, and we will put affordable housing elsewhere. It’s as if we’re taking people in.” They cannot afford it and we send them to the suburbs, behind the Promenades St-Bruno. After that, we retain the character of the supposed village to please the older residents who do not like the transformation of the downtown area.”

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happy broker

But how can the new mayor reconcile his strategy with the principles established by the Government of Quebec and the Metropolitan Community of Montreal (CMM), of which Saint Bruno is a member, to counter urbanization and, to this end, intensify the region?


Cottages represent 72.6% of housing in San Bruno de Montarville.

“We can do a lot of intensification in cities like Longueuil, Montreal, Laval, Sherbrooke or Gatineau, answers Mr. Grisé Farand. But small villages and small towns should not be destroyed to create the streets of Taschereau and Quartiers DIX30. There may be a compromise between the two.”

I think you have to limit the random creep, but it also requires a certain balance, because people who leave big cities want land. It is not true that we will all live in 4 1/2s.

Ludovic Grizzi Farrand, Mayor of San Bruno

In San Bruno, which has a population of 26,873, housing largely consists of one floor, which accounts for 72.6% of housing. The city also has a large agricultural area accounting for 28% of its area, according to the Observatoire du Grand Montréal.

This urban configuration may help explain the city council members’ priorities: “We keep as many single-family homes as possible because that’s what young families are looking for when they come here. We think it’s up to the citizens to decide on the development of the city and not the promoters.”


Aerial view of downtown San Bruno de Montarville

The mayor, who is an accountant by training, also believes that with the “2800 Doors” development project behind Promenades St. Bruno Walmart, he is fulfilling his obligations. “There can be four, five or six storey towers on this site, which allows us to respect the condensation ratios set by CMM. Because we are bound by it.”

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Wrong way

Michel Rochefort, professor of urban planning at the University of Quebec in Montreal, thinks San Bruno is on the wrong track: “When you look downtown, you see that there is a lot of space that could be improved, without allowing for taller buildings.” The question is why move so much of Density outside the city center. Basically, we’re going to create a new neighborhood, completely separate from old San Bruno, which will lead to car travel rather than active travel. »

This is a problem in terms of sustainable development. We are reshaping a city where you have to travel by car to get from one point to another.

Michele Rochefort, Professor of Urban Planning at the University of Kuala Lumpur

This approach to land use is not only reflected in the bylaw on zoning. It is at the center of another debate, about the site of a future sports complex of more than 50 million people, on the site of the high school in Mont Bruno, less than a kilometer from the city centre. , or in Marie – Victorin’s location, near Interstate 30, is too far away and therefore likely to encourage motoring.


Shops in downtown San Bruno de Montarville

The choice of one of the signatories will be put to a referendum in early June. “For my part, it is optional. I will vote for the Marie-Victorian site,” said the mayor, referring to costs and deadlines, bearing in mind that the character “a little out of the way” for the site, near the motorway, is not a problem.

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We could have gone to a legal referendum, a process that costs a lot of money. Instead, we did business with a specialist company that has a very secure voting system. Each citizen will receive a PIN by mail and be able to vote online, over the phone, or in person.

Projects at risk

The amendment of the bylaws of the division also has very tangible effects on development projects that suddenly find themselves in danger.

Brendan O’Dowd, an affordable housing specialist, is suing the city for rejecting his project. He acquired two houses in the Chemin de la Rabastalière that he intended to demolish to build a 19-unit building. His project, which was approved by San Bruno’s Urban Planning Advisory Committee (CCU), has been banned by the demolition commission.


Brendan O’Dowd, a real estate developer, is suing the city of San Bruno.

We are continuing because there is no consistency in city guidelines.

Brendan O’Dowd, real estate developer

“The new regulations don’t have water in terms of urban sprawl, densification of city centers, the environment, public transportation and local stores, and govern this lawn. All that the government requires of cities is, he, Ludovic [Grisé Farand]’No,’ he says, ‘We’re done with that and we’re going to send people to a new neighborhood that might be built in five or ten years behind the Promenades of St. Bruno.’ »

Chancellor Vincent Fortier voted against amending the division’s bylaws, which, in addition to encouraging sprawl, give the mayor, he says, discretion. “The mayor has the power and the right to liquidate real estate projects that do not comply with the regulatory framework and to present to the city council what he finds interesting. How do we ensure, without a coherent regulatory framework, uniform development? That is impossible for me,” he says.

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