CWG Primer on The Office de Consultation Publique de Montréal (OCPM) Consultations on Chinatown

The City of Montréal is planning major urban changes for Chinatown. What are these changes?

The provincial government and the City of Montréal designated Chinatown as a cultural heritage site in January 2022. As a result, the City of Montréal is planning to make changes to the urban plan for Montréal’s Chinatown. These changes will have an important impact on Chinatown and its community.

The City of Montréal wants to review the regulations regarding the density and height of buildings in Chinatown. The current planning parameters are very permissive. They make it possible for new construction projects of up to 66 stories to develop without considering the characteristics and interests of Chinatown. Developers tend to demolish existing buildings because they can construct high buildings with these permissive planning parameters.

Why is this important?

Permissive planning regulations have a significant impact on Chinatown and its community. The City of Montréal wants to review these parameters to reduce height and density limits. Currently, some zones allow buildings up to the equivalent of 66 stories in height. Some proposed parameters reduce the height limit to 34 stories. Other zones have even lower parameters, allowing a maximum height of 7 stories.

Source: OCPM

To understand the issues involved, we can do a comparison with the city of Vancouver, where the 2011 zoning policy allowed for the construction of buildings from 9 to 15 stories, resulting in serious impacts on Chinatown. The increases in permitted heights and density have had the following consequences:

  • Loss of history and identity of the area (destruction of buildings of historical interest, which contribute to Chinatown identity, etc.).
  • Considerable increase in homeowner population leading to changes in business dynamics
    • Displacement and/or loss of local businesses
    • Chain stores occupying spaces previously used by independent businesses
    • The closure of local and traditional restaurants
  • Speculators buying land and buildings to resell them at a higher price in the future. Buildings and land without activity results in less traffic.
  • Groups of investors buying buildings to consolidate land and rebuild larger buildings that occupy more space, forcing out businesses that must leave to vacate the space.
  • Disproportionate scale between tall buildings and short buildings (the Montreal example would be the construction on Renée-Lévesque and adjacent small residential duplexes)
  • Loss of sunlight due to height of new buildings
  • Loss of green space, community and recreational space

The changes in Chinatown’s planning rules are also an opportunity to confirm Chinatown’s heritage status and importance.

What is the City proposing? What are the next steps? How can I contribute?

The City of Montréal’s proposed changes to lower building heights and densities in Chinatown would alleviate pressure from developers that threaten the cultural heritage of the neighbourhood and allow us to reflect on the future of Chinatown. These changes will provide for a reprieve in order to give the community a chance to be consulted without construction projects compromising the development of this new vision.

The Office de consultation publique de Montréal (OCPM) is conducting this consultation and now is the time to get involved to ask your questions, share your concerns and make your voice heard. The best people to contribute to the development of Chinatown’s future vision are the people who live there and participate in the cultural, economic and community life of the neighbourhood. Now is the time to have your say!

The more people who participate in this consultation, the more the OCPM will understand that protecting Chinatown is important to the community and citizens of Montréal. There are several ways to get involved:

  • Prepare a written statement (we will be sharing templates with anyone who would like to receive one to submit their own statement – check back here soon!)
  • Share your opinion in person. The deadline to register is June 2nd and the first meeting is June 8th. Registration opens May 19th and can be done by phone at 514 872 8510
  • Learn more and ask questions. There is an information session on May 18th at 7 pm at Holiday Inn Centre-Ville – 999, rue Saint-Urbain (Metro: Place d’Armes) which will also be livestreamed.
  • Help people to get involved! Tell your community, share this information page, spread the word!

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Please note that as of September 2022, Chinatown Working Group has officially closed its doors.

Veuillez noter que le GTQC a officiellement fermé ses portes en septembre 2022.