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Borough hears complaints about Greek church reconstruction

Create: 04/18/2016 - 21:10

While news of the impending start of construction on the new Koimisis Tis Theotokou church on de l’Épée Ave., which was destroyed by fire a year ago, has proven to be a source of joy for Greek Orthodox residents of Parc Extension, not everyone is thrilled.
During the Villeray/St-Michel/Parc Extension borough council’s monthly meeting last week, Mary McCutcheon, a longtime resident of Stuart Ave., raised questions during question period about a derogation for the setback from Ogilvy Ave. and the placement of a wall on the edge of the church property.
Objects to derogation
“As a resident I object profoundly to that,” McCutcheon, who is the founder and president of the Park Extension Historical Society, said after Councillor Mary Deros explained the reason why the church is being built on the remaining foundations of the original building.
McCutcheon maintained that sidewalks in the borough, including the one next to Koimisis Tis Theotokou, don’t provide enough space for pedestrians and the construction of the new church won’t make things easier. “I don’t believe this derogation should be allowed,” she said. “We need to look at the whole street and see that all buildings provide enough space on the sidewalk.”
As well, McCutcheon suggested that Deros might potentially have difficulty arriving at decisions because Deros is president of the borough’s consultative urban plannning committee (CCU) while also being close to the local Greek community.
Impartiality of the CCU
“I realize it must be difficult for you because you are the president of the CCU and you are also the champion of the Greek community and a big friend of the Greeks,” she said. “I think there are other aesthetic values which must also be looked at and defended.” Deros responded that in the course of her duties with the CCU she deals with all the communities in Parc Extension “and I treat all the dossiers equally as someone who is responsible for the CCU.”
Borough Mayor Anie Samson defended Deros, saying that the Koimisis Tis Theotokou dossier “followed the same course as all other dossiers. Mme Deros is president of the CCU for several years now, and the dossier touched on Parc Extension, just as other dossiers that come before the CCU touch on the other districts and Mme Deros has always done her work properly.
Samson defends Deros
“In the dossier we are concerned with, it’s a church which burned down last year in a fairly tragic manner and which had an impact on all the community,” Samson continued. “They made a request for reconstruction quite quickly to be able to continue holding their religious services. The dossier didn’t go any faster than others. The time involved was correct. The time for construction could begin starting this summer, and that is why we have these plans now to be able to start as quickly as possible.
“When a request comes in, we already have people who work extremely quickly and who have carefully examined the plans and who are following the procedures. So it went first to the CCU and then got first reading, there was a public consultation where more than 200 citizens of Parc Extension showed up in this room to see the presentation, and tonight this is the second reading following which there will be a third reading. This is all in keeping with the proceedings for the dossiers that usually come before us.”
Skatepark safety issues
When McCutcheon had additional objections, Samson pointed out that she would have had the opportunity to express them at the public consultation on the plans for the Koimisis Tis Theotokou project which was held on March 30, although she was not there.
Also during question period, Jean-Yves Ginchereau, a St-Michel resident who is a regular user of the Jarry Park skatepark, complained about its run down state. “The asphalt is starting to be rougher and this can be dangerous to users,” he said, while adding that the modules have sunk into the asphalt and that the unevenness can also be dangerous.
Parc/Jean Talon pedestrian security
Former Projet Montréal 2013 candidate in Parc Extension Sasha Dyck, who attends borough council meetings regularly, questioned Samson about ongoing safety problems at Parc Extension’s possibly busiest intersection – Parc Ave. and Jean Talon St. Noting that sometimes up to 500 pedestrians per hour cross at the many corners of the intersection, he added that the crossing time is only 22 seconds to make it across five traffic lanes.
Samson pointed out that Parc and Jean Talon are both arterial streets overseen by the centre city and that as a result the borough has a limited say in the measures which can be taken at the intersection to increase safety. But she said that a traffic study is underway in which Parc/Jean Talon is a priority. She said the study will take into account new traffic patterns a few blocks east on St. Laurent Blvd. and on de Castelneau St. where extensive condo construction is increasing traffic.

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Martin C. Barry