First steps to repairing Pointe Claire Village revealed

Anthony Abbondanza
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An urban diagnosis report identifying seven ways in which to revitalize Pointe Claire Village was released and revealed Monday evening to more than 100 residents at Saint-Joachim Church.

Viva Vida Art owner Nedia El Khouri is hoping the Pointe Claire Village Association assumes a more strengthened decision-making role in the city’s efforts to revitalize the 300-year-old destination.

Improving village visibility and traffic mobility for cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists, protection and development of heritage sites such as the Convent of the Congrégation de Notre-Dame, the windmill, and Antoine-Pilon House, and consolidating the commercial and residential hubs with the addition of restaurants and municipal services and facilities are just some of the recommendations made by the report’s author, Convercite.

The 20-page report is the end result of a “close collaboration between residents, leaders of various interest groups in the Village, municipal services representatives and urban planning experts” said Pointe Claire Mayor Morris Trudeau.

As part of the first phase of the Village Vision project, which seeks to develop a plan of revitalization for the century-old destination, the report will play a key role in preparing Pointe Claire’s impending Special Planning Program (SPP) for the area.

The Pointe Claire Village urban diagnosis report made use of an information session and an idea exchange forum held last June and November.

Other recommendations include the establishment of a relationship between the city and village merchants and residents, as well as the integration of Lake St. Louis peninsula, Alexandre-Bourgeau Park to the village.

According to the report, the lack of visual and functional connections between the lake, establishments on the peninsula, Alexandre-Bourgeau Park and the rest of the Village “are problems that can be resolved with physical interventions and programming of equipment and activities in the park and on the lake.”

Meanwhile the Pointe Claire Village Association (PCVA) welcomed the report, and is optimistic about succeeding action on the part of city council.

“We’re optimistic about the report. The process was fair,” said PCVA president Nedia El Khouri, owner of Viva Vida Art Gallery since 2009.

And with merchants’ struggles, in large part, corresponding to seasonal weather, she said, the report couldn’t have come at a better time. The previous two winters, especially, have brought hard times on established businesses and have prevented vacant lots from being occupied.

The village has a high commercial vacancy rate of 13 per cent, “probably due to obsolescence, lack of universal accessibility and the small market for such premises,” according to the report.

To make matters worse, Convercite found that vacant lots and buildings, lifeless facades and parking spaces continue to make the village a less attractive commercial zone.

Also, a strong and vocal merchants’ association, with a concrete plan to help the revitalization effort, is lacking, according to the report.

The PCVA is a mere two years old, yet still lacks online visibility via a website – a tool deemed crucial to advance the goals of village merchants. The PCVA is in the process of establishing an online presence in an effort, said El Khouri, which will hopefully render the association more vocal in terms of decision-making for the future of the Pointe Claire Village.

Here’s a look at some of the strengths and weaknesses of the village that, according to the Convercite report, needs either enhancing or correcting.

Village strengths

-A direct connection from Highway 20 to Cartier Avenue.

-Vacant or underused buildings that could be considered for new housing units and reinforcing commercial hubs.

-Public spaces on the waterfront that make the Village a place to access the lake and a very attractive location

-A connection to the Green Route bikepath.

-Relatively good public transit service, including fairly frequent service to downtown Montreal.

A large supply of parking spaces.

Village weaknesses

-A lack of visibility from Highway 20, as well as inefficient municipal signage to landmarks and parking.

-Obstacles to establishing new restaurants and accommodations that could boost customer traffic and bring life to the village.

-The buffer zone between commercial parking areas and people’s yards, which does not always ensure residents’ privacy.

-Underdevelopment of Cartier Avenue as a link between the two business hubs in the village, as a main north-south link for all means of transportation, and as the main gateway to the village.

-No public access to the windmill a1nd the deteriorating condition of the national archeological property, which is the emblem of the Pointe-Claire.

-Underdevelopment of Alexandre-Bourgeau Park given its potential as a major attraction for the entire population of Pointe Claire and visitors to the village.

For more information on the report, visit ville.pointe-claire.qc.ca/visionvillage. For more on the PCVA, visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/AVPC.PCVA.

Follow @AAbbondanza1 on Twitter!

Organizations: Pointe Claire Village Association, Antoine-Pilon House, SPP Viva Vida Art Gallery

Geographic location: Pointe Claire, Alexandre-Bourgeau Park, Lake St. Louis Cartier Avenue Montreal

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