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Over the past few weeks, the Town of Mount Royal has been the scene of a sad and disappointing series of events. A handful of residents took it upon themselves to organize a movement to oppose the construction of a new residence for our retired and elderly citizens, a project that the Town and various community groups have spearheaded for several years now.

Unfortunately, these residents have achieved their goal of sowing fear and stoking concerns around the Brittany Ave./Rockland Centre area. Increased car traffic, compromised security, a drop in the value of nearby homes: such are the inaccuracies and lies that have been circulating against a backdrop of fearmongering in the form of criticism against the developer and claims of illegal practices undertaken by the Town. These efforts have resulted in a sufficient number of the area’s residents signing a written statement opposing the project.

The numbers are clear and unequivocal: in the coming years, the number of Townies aged 65 and older will rise substantially. Currently, there are not enough homes to meet the Town’s needs, so it is easy to imagine what the situation will be like in five or ten years. This means that due to a lack of space, our retired citizens will continue to be driven out, often far away from their children and grandchildren.

For more than twenty years, successive municipal administrations have worked to solve this problem. Former Mayor Vera Danyluk almost succeeded in 2007, but was blocked by a tactic that is the carbon copy of the one being deployed today, i.e. a campaign of fear and misinformation designed to frighten residents.

It is important to remember that, this time again, the proposed project sufficiently addressed current and future needs, in addition to providing high-quality dwellings, finalizing plans for the noise barriers along Autoroute 40, all to significantly improve local residents’ quality of life. Noise, traffic, and sunlighting studies were completed to clearly explain the project and assuage residents’ concerns. The developer (Le Groupe Maurice, a Quebec industry leader) remained transparent by participating in the consultation process and by organizing an open house for citizens.

It is difficult to grasp the small opposition group’s true motivation. Under the guise of a pro-democracy movement, their fearmongering campaign caused a noble and necessary project to grind to a halt, and it’s our elderly who stand to lose the most. I see no actual victory in the events that transpired. All I see is a deplorable lack of empathy toward an important part of our community.

During my meetings with concerned residents, many of them expressed their support for a seniors’ residence—that is, provided it’s not built close to their home. This is unfortunately proof that the “not-in-my-backyard” syndrome is alive and well in Mount Royal. As talks are underway about the possible construction of a fourth francophone primary school, there is cause for collective concern. A vibrant community that is also a great place to live depends on more than just protecting the tiny stretch of sidewalk in front of one’s home.

In conclusion, I hope that the welcome given to a new elementary school will have nothing in common with the recent missed opportunity for the retirement residence.

Philippe Roy

Mayor

90 Roosevelt Avenue

Mont-Royal H3R 1Z5