Laval Mayor Marc Demers plans to lay out major restrictions on the new construction of residential condo towers between six and 25 storeys on 82 per cent of the city`s territory.
"There will be, for the first time in decades, a development plan for the [territory]," he told Radio-Canada.
For Demers, the plan marks the end of an era of "improvisation and construction initiatives according to the needs of the promoters."
The new measures will limit buildings over six storeys to the "downtown" area, namely sites near the Place Bell, Montmorency Metro station and the Carrefour Laval.
"What we don't want is an area where it's been developing for years, a family area with one or two-storey houses, and then a big 10 to 15-storey place comes in," he said.
Demers brought the plan to Laval's municipal council, which has already approved it.
The next step is to get the green light from the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal, the greater Montreal council that incorporates Longueuil and Laval.
The plan also includes a vast expanse of wetlands, forests and agricultural land that would be protected. In particular:
- 3,331 hectares of green space will be conserved, 1,718 of which is wooded areas.
- 7,053 hectares will be reserved for agricultural use.
Demers said he's committed to preserving air quality and reducing smog in the area. The new measures come after two years of consultation with the residents and community groups.
A path to urban balance?
This development plan will allow Laval to become a big city on its own, similar to what Mississauga, Ont., did recently, according to David Wachsmuth, an urban planning professor at McGill University.
"Part of what they're going for is to build up a downtown," he said.
At the same time, Wachsmuth adds that limiting the construction of high-rise buildings to downtown is good news.
This measure would encourage the rest of Laval's districts to focus on three-to-six-storey buildings that promote pedestrian-oriented lives.
"A lot of cities in Canada are now starting to turn to policies, meant to encourage the 'missing middle,' [like] low-rise apartment buildings," he said.
"We don't see enough of that being developed."