A new Urban Plan for Hampstead

2016-06-02

Hampstead’s last comprehensive Urban Plan was developed in 2005 when we were part of the borough of Cote Saint-Luc, Hampstead and Montreal West. While there have been some modest updates since then, this is the first time that we are rewriting the entire plan. Every town in the Greater Montreal area is required to produce a new plan which is congruent with the overall master plan adopted by Montreal and Quebec. We have taken advantage of this opportunity to also update our Urban Planning by-laws in order to greatly simplify and clarify them, to remove inconsistencies, and to incorporate changes which will preserve and enhance the green nature of our garden city. We expect final approvals of our plan by Quebec and the Montreal Agglomeration before the end of the year.

No change to our historic vision

The overall vision of Hampstead as a garden city which is 100% residential is not changing. Beautification of green spaces and parks will continue, as it has the last several years. Since the town was first incorporated just over a century ago, those have been the hallmarks of our town – an oasis of peace and tranquility in a very busy and dynamic metropolis.

With the help of an outside consultant and temporary extra Urban Planning staff, the new plan has been worked on for the past 18 months. Several hundreds of pages of our old by-laws, many sections of which haven’t been touched in decades, were reviewed.

A zone on Dufferin and one on Holtham were each split into two new zones to better reflect the built environment. This will legalize the existing setbacks which, for half of those zones, did not respect the current setback rules. Since the homes were built decades ago, we do not know how this situation came about, but with the new zones residents will no longer need to get minor derogations when they sell their homes.

Many of our new by-laws now have tables and illustrations. As one example, our zoning by-law now has a single page for each zone with a map and table containing all the necessary information. The former by-law had numerous hard-to-understand pages of legalese for each zone and the information was not all in one place.

We also found numerous discrepancies between the English and French texts. In addition, some by-laws had had numerous amendments over the years so to understand them it was necessary to start with the most recent amendment and go back to the original and all previous amendments. Now we have consolidated everything.

Home owners, builders and their architects will find the new by-laws far easier to work with and that should reduce errors and costly corrections.

Enforcement

There is a lot of construction going on in Hampstead. Most residents are responsible and get permits. They respect our by-laws and the conditions on the permit. Regretfully, a small minority try to play the system. They submit plans but build something different. If caught, they ask for a minor derogation. It doesn’t work. First, not everything is eligible for a minor derogation and secondly, council will not grant one where we believe that it was not an honest error. Currently, we have three cases like this. In one the owner will be paying the fines and correcting the errors. It will cost him at least $30,000. In another, we are going to court to force compliance. The minor derogation was already refused and the cost to the owner to rectify the situation will be tens of thousands of dollars. So please respect our by-laws. You will save time, aggravation and money.

If you have any comments or questions on this topic or anything else related to Hampstead, please e-mail me at wsteinberg@hampstead.qc.ca or call me 7 days a week until midnight at my home office (514) 483-6954.


Sincerely,


Dr. Bill Steinberg
Mayor, Town of Hampstead