How Cadillac Fairview Reached a Bilingual Community and Counterbalanced Disinformation
An ambitious plan to redevelop 900 parking spaces into a large outdoor plaza and mixed-use development, the CF Fairview Pointe Claire project aims to facilitate walking and cycling as well as connections to public transit via the Réseau Express Métropolitain (REM) station and relocated bus terminal coming to the area in 2024.
The Cadillac Fairview team found success by consistently soliciting and replying to feedback on the project website, with a 99% reply rate and comment sentiments that are 95% positive or neutral. Since the project launched in late March 2022, more than 250 community residents and stakeholders have left comments on the project site, including suggesting local services and benefits that they would like to see included as the development takes shape.
One facet of the coUrbanize platform that proved crucial for project leaders was being able to combat misinformation about the land selected for redevelopment. While Cadillac Fairview is the owner of a tract of forested land originally intended for John Abbott College, the company heeded the community’s calls to develop an existing parking lot instead and leave the ecosystem intact. However, some commenters on the project site seemed unaware of the planned location, requiring the project team to respond and provide correct information.
“coUrbanize allowed us to counterbalance the banter and the disinformation on local social media,” says Jeroen Henrich, Vice President of Development at Cadillac Fairview. “We’re very proud of our project in terms of sustainability, transportation, and affordability – Typically you wouldn’t market those aspects so early in a project. But in this sort of political climate, you almost have no choice.”
Another unique aspect of the project is its language translation. Located on the island of Montreal in Quebec, Pointe Claire is a bilingual community with two official languages: English and French. For that reason, it was important to Cadillac Fairview project leaders to translate the project site into both languages and allow community members to leave comments in the language of their choice. Thus far, 23.5% of total project comments have been left in French.
“The biggest impact of coUrbanize has been in the feedback tool – It allowed us to show that the political narrative is driven by a small and very vocal group,” says Henrich. “coUrbanize allowed us to show that the majority of comments are actually positive, and that there are differing voices. We could show the public a more balanced viewpoint.”
Using coUrbanize, Cadillac Fairview:
- Reached a bilingual community, letting community members comment in their language of choice
- Responded directly to misinformation, engaging with community members and providing correct project information
- Demonstrated to the local government that the majority of community members have positive things to say about the project
Cadillac Fairview plans an inviting new community with an outdoor plaza, a seniors’ residence, two residential rental buildings, a food market and restaurants that will replace 900 parking spaces currently forming a significant heat island on the site. Read more about the project here.