The Côte des Neiges-NDG borough was not consulted on a plan regarding the City of Montreal’s announcement of “safe active transportation circuits” for this summer , say borough Mayor Sue Montgomery and Snowdon Councillor Marvin Rotrand.
Montreal announced the temporary project, which will include pedestrian-only areas like Mount Royal Avenue — similar to Ste. Catherine between Bleury and St. Laurent — and bike paths, to enable travel to parks and main thoroughfares and enable social distancing in light of COVID-19.
Among the areas affected are Camilien-Houde – Côte-des-Neiges – Queen-Mary. Montreal’s press release says there will be “improvements to Cyclovia Camilien-Houde to allow for extended hours and traffic on weekends, and additions to be integrated into pedestrian corridors on both main streets in the Côte-des-Neiges neighbourhood.”
This has caused concern about what the changes could entail for CDN-NDG — possibly bike paths.
“We weren’t consulted at all, it was a complete surprise to us,” Montgomery told The Suburban Monday. “Obviously, I support bike paths, but I’m not sure this is the right choice for our borough. I think Valérie Plante should be consulting the Mayors of the boroughs and find out what’s best for us instead of imposing what she wants. Côte des Neiges Road is busy, it has bus routes and we’ve put in some pedestrian corridors there, so it’s not the best choice for us.”
Another problem, she said, is the lack of detail of what exactly what will be installed on Queen Mary and Côte des Neiges Roads.
“I saw the press release, and it was a shock for me as well as everyone. I find that unacceptable. We need to be consulted, as well as our residents, but that didn’t happen.... This is the problem with city centre, I don’t know if any of them actually come to CDN-NDG, know where it is or even care about it. It’s a bit infuriating.”
In a message to his constituents, Rotrand pointed out that arterial streets like Côte des Neiges and Queen Mary are under the control of the centre city, not the borough. His understanding is that “the administration of Mayor Valerie Plante has decided, again with no consultation, to remove most parking on dozens of commercial streets across Montreal, including on all of Queen Mary and much of Côte des Neiges in our borough.
“COVID-19 will have a tremendous economic impact on small businesses,” the Snowdon councillor added. “Many will not survive. This shocking news that the pro-bicycle party running City Hall wants to remove parking for months on end to install more bicycle paths will be the final nail in the coffin for many merchants.”
Rotrand wrote that he has also heard that Montreal “intends to install a new bus lane on Queen Mary in the autumn and is examining making the current bus lane on Côte des Neiges operational all day, in other words not allowing any parking on that street at any time. We are beginning to hear from merchants on many streets who are starting to organize to save their livelihood.
“The Plante administration represents a special interest group of hard core cyclists,” he added. “The party harbours an anti-car philosophy that goes well beyond reasonable dialogue as to the balance between cars and more sustainable forms of transport. The administration epitomizes a ‘war on cars’ philosophy.
“This latest move is unrealistic and with COVID-19 where many people will rely on their cars, its time for community groups to fight back. The city should not be able to unilaterally destroy the viability of small businesses or decide how public space is used without consultation and dialogue with the public.”
Rotrand told The Suburban that merchant reaction to the health corridor bollards on Van Horne which eliminated parking spots on the northern side between Victoria and Lavoie, and which CDN-NDG announced will be removed and rethought, is a “minor precursor to what we are going to see in many other areas” with this summer’s city-wide measures.
“This announcement, with no consultation, tells us how how out of touch this administration is. Some people in this district have started calling Valérie Plante the ‘Green Trump,’ a radical environmentalist who doesn’t believe in consultation.”
CDN-NDG councillor Christian Arseneault, with Projét Montréal, commented Tuesday afternoon that centre-city employees "did work with our local staff to identify Côte des Neiges and Queen Mary, with those two streets being chosen partly because the borough has implemented health corridors on them already.
"These health corridors — which were the borough’s own initiative — were installed to ease active transit and as a result have already taken up space previously occupied by parking."
The councillor added that "since Côte des Neiges and Queen Mary make up the second phase of the centre-city’s planned network, discussions with our civil servants will continue in order to determine the best measures for each street.
"What’s more, this will be an excellent opportunity for the borough to coordinate our local plan with downtown. While the final details must still be worked out, one thing is clear — these reserved lanes will help local residents get around safely and support local business, especially over a summer period when many were otherwise planning to be out of town. Local businesses will also need space for their terrasses and this initiative could help provide them with more outdoor room to respect social distancing rules while still bringing in much-needed revenue."