Martin C. Barry
The presence of two senior provincial government ministers for an announcement that the City of Laval is pushing forward to develop a large but underused tract of land near the downtown core was a good sign Quebec is on board to see the project through, according to Mayor Marc Demers.
Carré Laval, as the area is called by Laval urban planners, is an almost perfectly square territory measuring approximately 4 million square feet – equal to 68 football fields. It is bounded in the east by the Laurentian autoroute, Daniel Johnson Blvd. to the west, Saint Martin Blvd. to the north and Souvenir Blvd. on the south side.
Mostly owned by city
While most of the 32 lots in the Carré Laval are already owned by the city, the provincial courthouse is located along the Saint Martin Blvd. side. As well, there is a shopping mall occupying the corner lot at Saint Martin and Daniel Johnson. There has also been some residential and commercial development nearby on the site.
An abandoned and fairly deep quarry filled with water sits behind the courthouse building. For years, the city has used a large amount of Carré Laval’s space as a snow dump, with long lines of dump trucks making their way on and off the site during the winter.
To develop over 20 years
The city plans to develop the site for mixed use (residential, commercial, institutional) over the next 20 years, with an emphasis on environmental friendliness. For example, the Carré Laval would be an area where automobiles would have no access, or it would be extremely limited, although there would be lots of public transportation.
The transportation strategy calls for maximizing the availability of public transit. As such, the plan would include the creation of a new Metro stop in Carré Laval, which would bring to four the number of subway stations on the City of Laval’s territory.
Among other things, Laval wants to put the flooded quarry to good use by developing it into a lake in the middle of the city, which would be the centrepiece of a park with a sandy beach.
Interest rising, says city
The city claims to have lined up as many as 20 partners interested in developing projects on the site. They include teaching institutions and organizations with an interest in promoting environmentally-sustainable ideas by putting them into practice in an urbanized parkland such as the Carré Laval.
It’s perhaps also worth noting that Carré Laval is located immediately next door to Laval’s successful Cité de la Biotech for science-based businesses, opening the door to potential synergies. And Carré Laval currently has a significant amount of forest land on it that is ideal for park development.
$10 million from Quebec
At this early stage, Quebec is agreeing to provide the City of Laval with a $10 million subsidy to decontaminate the land, which is bound to be heavily soiled from years of snow dump use. However, there is likely also to be a fair amount of additional preparation work, as the mayor himself acknowledged that Carré Laval was used for years to dump landfill and the ground needs to be stabilized.
Carré Laval appears to be one of the largest steps taken by the administration of Mayor Marc Demers until now to make good on the slogan, ‘Urbaine de nature,’ which expresses the city’s long-term strategic vision of Laval as a municipality where nature is woven closely into the urban fabric.