Pandemic delays controversial Royalmount project by 1 year

·2 min read
The Royalmount development has been criticized for its lack of social housing and the likelihood that it will worsen automobile traffic in an already congested part of the city. (Submitted by Carbonleo - image credit)
The Royalmount development has been criticized for its lack of social housing and the likelihood that it will worsen automobile traffic in an already congested part of the city. (Submitted by Carbonleo - image credit)

The opening of the Royalmount residential and commercial complex has been postponed to the summer of 2023 due to the pandemic, putting it one year behind schedule.

Planned for the Town of Mount Royal near the intersection of highways 15 and 40, the complex is supposed to incorporate thousands of homes, upscale businesses and parking spaces at a time when commercial vacancies are on the rise across the island of Montreal.

The first phase comes with a $1.5-billion price tag, but that's not deterring the developer, Carbonleo, from pushing forward with renowned companies like Louis Vuitton on board, said the company's vice-president, Claude Marcotte.

"There are several brands like that, that we are going to have that are not in the Montreal market, that will join us," said Marcotte.

The number of housing units planned on the site has been reduced. It is now just over 3,000 rather than the 4,500 originally slated to be built over a period of 10 years. These units will, for the most part, be condos in 50-storey towers.

The Royalmount project does not include social housing, but Montreal is looking to develop social housing at the nearby Blue Bonnets site, Marcotte noted.

The current zoning does not allow residential construction on the site, and TMR officials have yet to greenlight a dispensation. Mayor Philippe Roy said the the public will be consulted before a final decision is made.

"If we ever get to the stage of changing the zoning to allow residential, then it is the agglomeration of Montreal that must proceed with the modification of the development plan," said Roy.

"At that time there will be work to do with the City of Montreal."

While Carbonleo management remains optimistic, there has been plenty of opposition to the project from elected officials, like Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, who has panned the project's lack of social housing.

Years of discussions, redesign and setbacks

Back in July 2020, Marcotte said his company was undeterred by the pandemic. He said Carbonleo was pushing forward with a slightly revised plan that would be a better fit in the new world of physical distancing, face masks and hand washing.

He said, at the time, that theatres might be delayed and hotels adapted to the new reality, "but in the end, it's going to be pretty much the same type of project."

Earlier that year, the company had announced its redesign of the project after some five years of public consultations and concerns from the community.

Carbonleo said the new design would "benefit the metropolitan and local communities," as the company strives to build an environmentally friendly site that incorporates greenery and 3.8 kilometres of pedestrian paths.