Dozens of regulatory violations, more than a hundred construction anomalies, the improper use of one of the buildings and a protective wall that no longer sees the time to be built… Exasperated by the problems in the Victoria Quarter and the lack of collaboration from the developer Habitations Trigone, the City of Saint-Lambert turned to the courts.
On September 14, the municipal council mandated the Morency cabinet to initiate legal proceedings against the Quartier Victoria and Trigone for breaches of municipal regulations.
READ ALSO: Quartier Victoria: a survey to understand and prevent
According to the City, the project, as built and used since 2014, violates several urban planning regulations, including an insufficient number of parking spaces for visitors, for disabled people and for bicycles; landscaping that has never been started or completed; and non-compliance with various conditions of the Site Planning and Architectural Integration Plan.
Tower n ° 2, located at 60, rue Cartier, does not respect its intended use. The building permit granted by the City provides for a multi-family dwelling of the residential and long-term care center type and must therefore follow specific standards, among other things as regards the number of parking spaces for visitors and for the disabled.
However, the Viva Cité project installed in tower n ° 2, although sold as an all-inclusive concept for 50-year-olds and over, is a building for residential use that is not reserved for seniors and that does not respect the specific permit standards.
According to an architect’s report, the Victoria Quarter presents 160 construction anomalies, not to mention the still non-existent protective wall between the project and the railway line, as well as an underground pedestrian footbridge to access the city center which has never been built.
Several meetings have taken place between the City and the developer in the past, but the requested corrections have never been made.
“We no longer had a choice,” said Mayor Pierre Brodeur to the Southern Mail, at the end of September. We always try to avoid legal proceedings, but it’s a bit like the tango: it’s a two-player game. We gave the runner the chance for a long time, but then we did what was necessary. “
“We were going in circles and there we said: that’s enough!”
– France Désaulniers
“The discussions led nowhere with Trigone,” indicated the municipal councilor of the district France Désaulniers. There is a security issue, both for citizens and for residents, but also a message to pass to developers that they must respect the permits issued; these are the rules of the game. “
The wall of discord
At the center of the many breaches blamed on Trigone and the Quartier Victoria project is the famous anti-collision wall designed to protect residents in the event of a train derailment, a wall that has still not been built or even damaged. Protection deemed all the more necessary by residents since the Lac-Mégantic tragedy, when nearly 40 convoys containing tank cars circulate every day on the railway section behind the project.
In an out-of-court agreement signed by Habitations Trigone on February 5, 2018, the contractor committed to building the security wall within the following 12 months. CN, which has the right to inspect the plans and the work, in return agreed to reimburse half of the construction costs. According to the plans of the civil engineering firm Maccaferri which accompany the agreement, the construction of the wall was then estimated at nearly $ 900,000.
“This wall will be built without fail, but there are small details to be fine-tuned,” Trigone deputy director Stéphanie Cocozza explained to TVA Nouvelles in July 2019, almost 6 months after the construction deadline.
The day after the report was broadcast, employees were present on the scene and allegedly removed approximately 150 feet of the fence that separates the project from the railway line. Since then, no trace of these employees and a gaping opening in the fence, which some people would use to cross the railroad tracks.
Too little clearance
However, as early as February 2013, in a letter addressed to the current Director General of the City, Georges Pichet, at the time director of land management, CN expressed its concerns in connection with the project.
Among other things, the rail transport company underlined the margin of only 9 to 10 meters between the buildings and the CN right-of-way, while it recommended one of 30 meters, including a 2.5-meter mound and a noise barrier of 10 foot. CN then suggested to Trigone to reduce the front setback of the buildings, which is between 17 to 26 meters, in order to increase the clearance with the railroad. Modifications which would have been refused by the promoter on the pretext that they were accompanied by too high costs.
The City reportedly told CN that the 9 to 10 meter setbacks included in the contractor’s plans complied with the provisions of its zoning by-law, which only requires 6-meter setbacks.
The land on which Quartier Victoria is located was sold to Habitations Trigone by CN in September 2012. The first ground breaking took place in February 2013, for the construction of the first building. However, the building permit for 740 Victoria Street was not issued until January 9, 2017, almost 4 years later and 3 ½ years after the Lac-Mégantic tragedy, which occurred on July 6, 2013.
At the time of going to press, Habitations Trigone had not responded to the numerous interview requests from the Southern Mail.