VSP increasing budget for social housing, says Mayor Fumagalli

Birnam Park to be upgraded, Councillor Mary Deros announces

Martin C. Barry

Villeray/St-Michel/Parc Extension Borough Mayor Giuliana Fumagalli announced near the beginning of the year’s last borough council meeting that VSP will be adding $316,000 to its budget for social housing needs.

VSP increasing budget for social housing, says Mayor Fumagalli
VSP Borough Mayor Giuliana Fumagalli.

For social housing

“What is interesting about this fund is that the amassed sums are used exclusively for the development of social and community housing,” she said on Dec. 3. Another measure she said the borough will be implementing next year is a new tariff linked to environmentalism.

“Through our tarification we will be rewarding the motorists who choose cars which are less polluting and who live in sectors with permits for surplus parking, the idea being to discourage people from purchasing SUVs which pollute.”

Subsidizing cycle paths

Fumagalli said the borough council’s members had come to an agreement that sums collected from the permits would be dedicated to mobility projects. She said part of the money will be invested in east-west cycling paths along Villeray St. beginning next year.

Park Extension city councillor Mary Deros announced during the meeting that the borough is proceeding with an upgrade on a park located on Birnam Ave. between Jean Talon St. and Beaumont Ave.

“The entire park is being redone with water games and a play area for the two-to-five year-olds and another play area for the five-to-twelve year-olds,” she told Nouvelles Parc Extension News.

VSP increasing budget for social housing, says Mayor Fumagalli
Park Extension city councillor Mary Deros.

Wiseman tenants burned out

During the public question period, Park Extension resident Sasha Dyck raised the issue of an apartment building on Wiseman Ave. that was heavily damaged by fire nearly a year ago. The owner has been seeking authorization from the borough to demolish and rebuild.

Although the tenants of the building were displaced by the fire, according to Dyck the owner has never stated whether they will be allowed to return as tenants, or whether the building will undergo a conversion to condominiums.

Questions over private/public

At the same time, Dyck questioned borough officials about the status of an outdoor gathering space that the developer of a new condo project on Querbes Ave. at the corner of Beaumont Ave. had announced when plans for the new building were submitted to the borough earlier this year.

According to Dyck, the developer had promoted the space as having a “public” character, implying that people from the community who are not condo owners would be able to enter and use it.

VSP increasing budget for social housing, says Mayor Fumagalli
Plans for the renewal of the park on Birnam Ave. as submitted during the Dec. 3 VSP borough council meeting.

Not ‘public,’ says VSP official

However, he noted that the developer’s plans show the courtyard space as being in the centre of the condo complex, suggesting that access to it would be restricted. A borough administration official clarified that the space in question is not a public park and can not be regarded as such technically.

The official said outsiders would be allowed to walk through, although he admitted he wasn’t able to answer the question beyond that. Park Extension councillor Deros said that according to the plans, the courtyard would have an opening into a rear alleyway.

Caution necessary, says Deros

“If some neighbours go and sit there, I doubt the janitor is going to tell them to leave,” she suggested. “But if some people end up using it as a dog park, I doubt this would be very appreciated by the people living there.”

“I share your preoccupations regarding the building that went up in flames on Wiseman – I asked the same questions,” said Fumagalli, adding that she also shared Dyck’s concerns about public access to the courtyard at the Querbes/Beaumont condo project.

Rental or condo?

In an interview, Dyck said it remains unclear whether the Wiseman Ave. property’s owner will have rental units as before. According to Dyck, the alternative, condo conversion, has become a trend in Park Extension when circumstances facilitate it.

“I think he has a certain responsibility to these longtime tenants who were forced out and lost absolutely everything in the fire,” he continued. “These are people who would love to stay in Park Ex. They’ve spent two months in a hotel now. But they just can’t afford the neighbourhood anymore with rents rising and condos replacing rentals.”