A battle over architecture is brewing, as the Plateau-Mont-Royal borough has reportedly ordered Afghan restaurant Khyber Pass to destroy its angular wooden façade on Duluth Street, because it does not fit with the style of other buildings nearby.
The restaurant took to Facebook this week to highlight its predicament, writing that the wooden structure, which has been in place for around nine years, “isn’t to the taste of the Plateau’s bureaucrats.”
“When a façade that doesn’t bother anyone becomes a priority for the city, it’s very worrying,” the message continued.
The story made it to multiple media outlets, and it turns out there’s a bit more to the story — according to Radio-Canada, the restaurant never had a permit for the façade, and has an ongoing dispute with the borough about it, facts which the restaurant left out of its initial statement.
The situation didn’t arise recently at all: 24 Heures indicates that that the Plateau has been on Khyber Pass’ case since the façade went up in 2009, with an urban planning committee definitively rejecting the façade some time ago. Owner Farouk Ramisch reportedly paid a fine a few years ago for having built it without permission.
A representative for the Plateau told both 24 Heures and Radio-Canada that it attempted to find a compromise solution with Ramisch, but that he would not budge.
It’s a tricky situation: it’s widely understood that you can’t just sweep in with construction crews and make major changes to buildings without permits — which appears to be what Khyber Pass did. But after almost a decade in place, the façade has become a minor icon of the streetscape around Duluth and Berri, and given the widespread sharing of the restaurant’s message on social media, it seems there’s ample support for it to stay in place.
However, the borough reiterated to Radio-Canada that rules about architecture which aim to preserve the historic nature of the area apply to businesses and residents “without exception”.
The façade remains in place for now but CBC reports that the Plateau has ordered it to be removed by the end of November.