THE SUCCESS OF THE PAST FIFTEEN YEARS; A GUARANTEE FOR THE FUTURE
In 1986, the Canadian government sold Canadair and all its installations to Bombardier. The Cartierville airport, included in the sale, was closed two years later. In the early 1990s, Bombardier decided to develop this vast terrain. They hired Daniel Arbour & Associés, an urban planning firm, to carry out market research analyzing what was currently being done in the United States and Europe. After a two-year study, an innovative concept for Montréal was proposed: The New Urbanism.
To start, Bombardier joined forces with Sotramont and Le Groupe Montclair to put this new urbanism plan into action. So what did it entail? The basic considerations were population density and diversity, interaction among residents, and convenient transportation – all on a human scale. The promoters decided to build various types of housing: multiplexes, condos, and town houses. Buildings were constructed close to the sidewalks and there were no garage doors to be seen. In fact, access to underground parking was by covered driveways. The slabs of concrete that served as the driveway’s roofs also served as the base of the owners’ patios.
Not only was the housing constructed on small lots close to the road, but it was also subject to architectural constraints: shingled roofs only, entry doors must be specific colours, and clay brick was required for the siding. Why? This will ensure architectural continuity and secure the investment for buyers. It seems to have worked, because fifteen years later, the property values of this city within a city continue to increase.
But Bois-Franc is more than just strict rules – it’s also a lifestyle. There is more green space here than in most neighbourhoods and parks are easily accessible for walkers and cyclists. This creates activity in the neighbourhood and interaction among residents. An owner’s association that organizes neighbourhood parties four times a year was formed. The heart of the community, where residents participate or not according to their preference is La Grande-Place. Young couples, families, retired people, Francophones, Anglophones, and Allophones all live here; the diversity of the population reflects city life.
Bois-Franc is centrally located in the neighbourhood of Saint-Laurent, which is located in the center of the Island of Montréal. Trains, buses, and highways allow residents to reduce tedious travel time, leaving them more time with family and friends. Bois-Franc residents benefit from an urban lifestyle in a natural setting that boasts lots of greenery and fountains, and where all wires (cable, telephone, and electric) are buried underground!
Since 2008, Sotramont et Montclair have formed a consortium that purchased all the remaining land owned by Bombardier. They began the new phase of their development, which when completed in fifteen years, will have witnessed the transformation of a gigantic 16-million square-foot field into 5,500 housing units. This will include 1,500 houses, a commodity that is becoming more and more rare in Montréal. Marc-André Roy, president of Sotramont, is confident about the future. “The best is yet to come,” he predicts, adding that “at Bois-Franc, we are selling a neighbourhood and a lifestyle. There is a feeling of belonging here. It’s a place for living and that’s why people love to live here.”
Photos: Paul-André Larocque