About half of the Carré Belvédère project is in in progress.
The Carré Belvédère project in the Ascot district is one of the largest residential developments underway in the territory of Sherbrooke. Nearly 850 new homes have been added to the neighborhood over the past four years and if all goes as planned, there will be a total of 2,300 when the project is complete. The arrival of these new residents makes it possible to densify the sector, but brings a good number of inconveniences: significant increase in road traffic, loss of green spaces, pressure on municipal infrastructures.
What I hear a lot, even from people who live in the Carré Belvédère, is that we don't have many common spaces, underlines the municipal councilor, Geneviève La Roche . There is no park yet. It lacks trees, greenery. I think all of these elements create injuries in the sector.
The municipal councilor, Geneviève La Roche.
The developer of the real estate project, Roland Mongeau, believes for his part that his project is appreciated and responds to a lack of housing halfway between Bishop's and Sherbrooke universities and a stone's throw from Highway 410. C' is an area of the city that had been completely ignored for 40 years. It's a neighborhood that people adopted very quickly, he points out.
“People want to come to Carré Belvédère so that the City Council didn't like it from the start! »
— Roland Mongeau, Promoter of Carré Belvédère
The elected representative of the district of Ascot, who is also the president of the Commission for land use planning, believes that, despite the inconvenience, it is still possible to improve the existing living environment in the part already built. .
Of course, we can work in the environment that has been created. [We could] make it more green by adding trees, she gives as an example. She points out that a play area for children is planned, that a natural environment has been preserved and that it will be accessible to citizens. The latter will also be consulted in June on the future development of this space, which many call the wooded geologists, which the developer had the obligation to cede to the City.
Part of the geologists' forest has been preserved and will be accessible to the population.
Martin Gagnon, president of the Association of Green Spaces of Sherbrooke (ACEVS), is also a neighbor of the Carré Belvédère. He wants the City to act quickly to carry out the development work in this wooded area. He still longs for the days when century-old hemlocks stood proudly in this space frequented by area residents.
“When we walked in there , it felt like we were in a cathedral! »
— Martin Gagnon, President of the Association of Green Spaces of Sherbrooke
[What's left] of the geologist's woodlot is just 10% of that whole 38-hectare area. In the space of 15 minutes, we will go around, he laments.
The constructions of the Carré Belvédère and that of the Ménestrel project, located a little further south between Belvédère Park and the École du Phare, are creating significant pressure on municipal infrastructure. Roland Mongeau informs us that the domestic sewer network is becoming saturated and that the City must assess the corrective measures to be taken. Since November, no new building permits have been granted for the future phases of his project.
For now, things are not moving. I can't wait to meet Ms. La Roche to see what she has in mind. Because if the city council does not allocate funds to unclog the sewer system, the Carré Belvédère is on ice.
The cost of housing at Carré Belvédère in Sherbrooke ranges from $1200 to $1950.
Another major impact of the addition of these new addresses is the increase in car traffic, even if the City cannot, for the moment, quantify this increase. A traffic study is underway and it is from this that corrective measures will be taken, argues Geneviève La Roche. We are thinking of solutions. The traffic plan will tell us where the best places are to install a light or stop signs and where we will have to make arrangements that will allow more fluidity. I also think that we have to think about public transit and active transportation. This is essential for what follows.
Especially since a new primary school will be built in the neighborhood precisely to respond to the growing number of young families. Beyond these interventions, Geneviève La Roche believes that it is necessary, in the future, to predict the impacts that a new neighborhood can have on traffic. Act before instead of intervening after and promote public and active transportation to offer an alternative to the car.
The arrival of thousands of new residents at Carré Belvédère does not only bring negative points. They increase the commercial potential of the sector. A McDonald's restaurant recently opened at the corner of Belvédère and Thibault streets. A mini shopping center is under construction on the same land. We're still working on a grocery store. It's on the way, wishes to underline Geneviève La Roche. She adds that a new resource at Entreprendre Sherbrooke has just been hired to energize the entire district. My goal is for everyone to have interesting businesses within walking distance that complement each other well. But these are not things that are unfortunately done by shouting scissors.
The municipal councilor is optimistic about the future of things at Carré Belvédère and believes that it is possible to make appreciable gains when carrying out the next phases. It is also reaching out to the developer to make this large quadrangle more pleasant for all the citizens who live there.
The Carré Belvédère in Sherbrooke could have 2300 addresses when it is completed.
I think we have a big duty to work with the promoter to make a project that will register differently from what we see at the moment. There are areas still wooded. We may be a little more dense in some places, but we will preserve more natural environments. We are going to be more demanding on planting trees, we are also going to demand public spaces.
Martin Gagnon of the Sherbrooke Green Spaces Association would like the subsequent phases of Carré Belvédère to be carried out in a new spirit through a joint committee made up of the promoter, the City and the citizens of the sector. The goal is to preserve the remaining wetlands and, in an ideal world, apply the 3/30/300 rule. The idea is to see at least three trees from your home, move around the neighborhood with 30% tree cover, and live within 300 meters of a green space so you can walk there, says Martin Gagnon . According to Nature Québec's Healthy Living Environments program, this approach allows nature to regain its place in cities. This is supported by socio-economic and mental and physical health benefits, adds Martin Gagnon.
City councilor Geneviève La Roche wants the next phases of Carré Belvédère to preserve more green spaces.
Roland Mongeau says he is ready to sit down with the municipal administration and believes that it is desirable to work for the well-being of the environment. Although the price of housing at Carré Belvédère ranges from $1,200 to $1,950 per month, there is room for affordable housing and social housing, he says. We already have signed agreements with the Housing Cooperative for the future phase and 50 housing units have already been reserved.
The promoter deplores, however, the lack of transitional measures and the lack of consideration for entrepreneurs shown by the mayor and certain elected officials. It seems to them that we have never collaborated with the City. Mrs. Beaudin has already said it: “It’s over with historical errors. When we are going to carry out a project, we are going to do it for future generations. It's as if, we, the developers with the infrastructure department of the City of Sherbrooke and the urban planning department, everything we had done until now, it's not ;was not good.
It is around the Nature Plan, which will be tabled in June, that the municipal administration wishes to build a new collaboration with real estate developers. This regulation will provide a framework for the protection of natural environments and provide guidance for the development plan as well as the urban plan.
The construction of the Carré Belvédère puts significant pressure on traffic and urban infrastructure.
How will this Plan be articulated during the development of future residential projects? When there is a development, what we will look at is whether there are exceptional natural environments? How can we preserve them as much as possible? How can we make an interesting living environment? How do we also integrate affordable housing into each of our spaces? she gives as an example. These questions, they could find their answer with the real estate developers, but also with the community. We have really started to communicate with the Commission for Land Use Planning, to give clear criteria, but we have to review our urban planning tools, says Ms. La Roche.
Martin Gagnon of the ACEVS believes, for his part, that the Nature Plan enhanced by a tree policy will offer better protection to natural environments in the urban perimeter.
The desired collaboration between the City and the developers now seems to have a reference, at least for several elected officials heard during the last session of the Land Use Planning Commission. This is the Masson project by Groupe Custeau, which will be located on 12th Avenue and will have 800 doors. A model of density and diversity which will be carried out with a view to respecting the existing natural environment, in the eyes of the President of the Commission, Geneviève La Roche.
“We went from a project that protected the natural environment at 18% at the beginning to 45% now. Half of the doors have been integrated into cooperative housing. We worked to preserve more trees by looking for large buffer strips with the existing neighborhood »
— Geneviève La Roche, municipal councilor and president of the Land Use Planning Commission
We arrive with a much denser project, but which allows to maintain a quality of life around. Most of the small paths in the wooded area will be preserved. A large number of parking spaces will be underground to reduce heat islands.
Masson project plan.
Councilor Danielle Berthold also welcomes this new way of approaching real estate projects. The promoter was an exemplary collaborator. It started from the environmental grid that we have just set up. I think this project will […] be a pioneering project and will leave its mark for years to come on how to build the city of Sherbrooke.
The promoter was really open. We took him completely somewhere else in a few months. That's what we want to strive for, concludes Geneviève La Roche.
I am the first to want to participate with the City, adds Roland Mongeau, promoter of Carré Belvédère. But once everything is settled, you have to consult the population and that's where it's going to stumble again.