The municipal council of Pointe-Claire, Que. has voted to exclude Cadillac Fairview's massive housing project from a development freeze for several areas of the city.
The controversial move leaves part of Fairview Shopping Centre's parking lot vulnerable to construction.
During a nearly three-hour special meeting Tuesday night, three council members and many residents voiced their concerns about the development project, ranging from the city's densification to the project's effect on the quality of medical care in the area.
"This is the largest project in the history of the West Island," Pointe-Claire Mayor Tim Thomas said just before the vote."Let's not rush it through in the interest of one developer."
For the duration of the freeze, no permits can be issued for the construction of new buildings or the conversion of existing ones in areas which include the Fairview Forest, Pointe-Claire Village and Valois Village. The freeze is in effect for 90 days but could last as long as two years.
Council tabled its development freeze bylaw in February with support of all council members.
Last month, Cadillac Fairview, a Canadian company that owns and develops properties across Canada and the U.S., filed legal proceedings with the Quebec Superior Court.
Brian Salpeter, a senior vice-president with Cadillac Fairview, said on Tuesday that the development plan includes a full-sized grocery store, restaurants and other businesses, as well as rental housing units.
The plans are to turn a portion of the mall's parking lot into a "pedestrian-friendly environment" within walking distance of the new Réseau express métropolitain (REM) rail link and bus station.
"We are pleased about this outcome and were attentive to the comments made by the City Councilors," a spokesperson for Cadillac Fairview said in a statement. "We look forward to continuing the discussions with the city to advance the redevelopment project in the parking lot of CF Fairview Pointe Claire."
The final council vote should be held at the May 3 council meeting.
Besides reducing urban sprawl and the dependence on cars, Coun. Eric Stork said the development will help the shopping centre continue operating in an age when it's competing with multinationals online.
"Our commercial tenants in Pointe-Claire pay the highest tax rates on the West Island, and that is possible only because these same tenants have the revenue to pay [them]," he said. "We have to work together."
WATCH | Pointe-Claire councillors discuss Cadillac Fairview development project:
But Thomas said it's time to think about more than financial matters and ensure the city can be developed in a way that protects the environment and preserves the beauty of Pointe-Claire.
"In this era of environmental crisis, we must now more than ever think of quality of life concerns and not simply about money," he said.