Strategy for city’s centre is being mapped out for the next 10-20 years
The City of Laval’s emerging downtown core will have a linear park, a high-tech industrial component, an urban boulevard, a cultural district, an esplanade and a commercial/retail street, but no new hospital, a city official acknowledged last week during a webcast public consultation on the massive centre city development plan.
Laval’s planned downtown core has been partly mapped out and is gradually being developed within an L-shaped quadrant bounded in the north by Autoroute 440, Chomedey Blvd. in the west, de la Concorde Blvd. to the south, and a zigzag border in the east consisting of Le Corbusier and Saint Martin boulevards, along with the north/south Exo commuter railway line.
A very large area
Some of the existing and more recent developments in the area include Place Bell, the high-rise condo towers that are now going up, the Centropolis shopping district, the Cosmodôme and future Armand-Frappier museum, and the Carrefour Laval interior shopping mall.
A significant physical obstacle that the city’s urban planners hope to overcome is Autoroute 15, which cuts the downtown core in two. Their plan is to eventually join the two halves with pedestrian overpasses to effectively make Laval’s centre friendlier and more accommodating to walkers.
A ‘vision,’ Boyer says
In some preliminary remarks opening the consultation, Deputy Mayor Stéphane Boyer said the city’s initial “vision” of the downtown core seeks to modernize it, while also retaining human aspects that reflect the existing and unique characteristics of the districts that converge in Laval’s centre.
During a public question period, Stéphane Merizzi, who identified himself as a resident living near the city centre, asked whether the planners had thought to include a hospital in the downtown plan.
“There are many residences for elderly people which are being built there,” he noted, while adding that almost certainly more families will also be moving in, and the Laval region will soon be needing a second hospital for its growing population. As it now stands, Laval has only Cité de la Santé in the east, while west end Laval residents have been clamouring for years to have a second hospital built in their area.
No hospital planned
“There isn’t any hospital planned in the downtown area,” replied Perrine Lapierre, a member of the City of Laval’s urban planning staff.
“For now, we have no information about that. But there are several projects underway connected to retirement residences that we are looking at. But for the moment, I have nothing specific mapped out that I can tell you about this evening.”
Merizzi pointed out that in the not very distant future, Laval will be reaching a population of 500,000, while Montreal is also on the verge of hitting the 2 million mark.
Hospital needed, says resident
“It seems to be that a second hospital, at least in the downtown, is something that might at least be studied or taken into account in the plans for the city centre – especially with the plans you have to increase the population in that particular sector,” Merizzi said.
‘A second hospital, at least in the downtown, is something that might at least be studied or taken into account in the plans’
Last week’s consultation wasn’t the first Laval has held on future orientations for the downtown area. An earlier consultation, held in December 2020, found, among other things, that some people in Laval want the city centre to have a lot of greenery and foliage, that the presence of cars should be minimized, that preference should be given to pedestrians and cyclists, and that the area should have an overall ambience that encourages activity at virtually any time of the night or day.
Ongoing up to 20 years
While some elements of the downtown development would be implemented in the next 5-10 years, others would be introduced over a span of up to 20 years. These would include the possibility of building pedestrian overpasses over Autoroute 15 using extensions westward along Jacques Tetrault St. and Tessier Blvd.
As well, the city’s urban planners envision developing a linear park along Souvenir Blvd., and a major redevelopment of Saint Martin Blvd. where it crosses the middle of the downtown core.
The city is accepting written memorandums, containing comments by residents on the downtown development plan, until June 16.
Although the city will be taking the comments into consideration over the coming summer, no fixed deadline has been set for the adoption of a comprehensive plan, and the process could conceivably go on for years.