West end Mayors united on transport alternatives for Décarie corridor: CSL Mayor

The City of Montreal's plans for the Hippodrome site.

Four west end Mayors held a press conference Monday morning to declare they are united on the need to create a transit-oriented plan for the Décarie corridor, where numerous development projects in their cities and boroughs are under way or planned.

They include the Westbury residential and hotel development east of Décarie and Vézina, the potential redevelopment of Décarie Square, the Hippodrome housing project and, most notably, the massive Royalmount complex in Town of Mount Royal, and others.

The Namur-De La Savane sector, the subject of hearings Monday at Ruby Foo's, involves the Metropolitan Expressway to the north; Jean Talon West, Cavendish Blvd. and the CP railyards to the west; and Décarie Blvd.

Mayors Mitchell Brownstein (Côte St. Luc) Sue Montgomery (Côte des Neiges-NDG), and Philippe Roy (TMR) and Councillor Francesco Miele representing Mayor Alan DeSousa announced at the Ruby Foo's Hotel the creation of a joint committee to "support and advance transit solutions.

"This is an historic moment for Montreal to showcase transit-oriented development," Brownstein said. "It became very clear that if we all want our projects to succeed we will have to agree on ways to move people more easily and freely in the future.

"We need urgent and major action in public transit, and we need the government and transit agencies, and the cities and the developers to work together, to put transit first, not as an afterthought. It must be built into the equation now."

Roy said the Mayors are already "looking at appropriate transit solutions to optimize the proximity to the Métro and reduce the reliance on private vehicles. We are all looking at green mobility solutions that will help overcome the presently highly congested roads around Namur–De La Savane.”

Montgomery said her borough's residents have dreamed of a new neighbourhood at the Hippodrome site, a "complete neighbourhood with all the services necessary for a great quality of life." and a "green and inclusive neighbourhood affordable to all.

"This dream would not be possible without an effective transit network."

DeSousa issued a statement that a transit-oriented plan is essential and will also "help to attract future residents to their job opportunities in our borough.” Miele said that, as elected officials, "we have a responsibility to have an urban plan that's oriented towards mass transit.

"If we want to have 50,000 more people in an area like this one, we absolutely need to bring the actors together with a mass transit philosophy."

They also cited the May 2019 Junca-Adenot report, initiated by Quebec Minister Chantal Rouleau and Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, which said creative transit solutions are needed before an already bad traffic situation in the area becomes much worse.

Part of the process involved CSL and the borough of St. Laurent together making a request for proposals for a "coordinated planning vision" for the sector, and the result was a December 2019 report, endorsed by the four Mayors, called Namur–De la Savane: Envisioning Change for the Heart of the Island, also known as the Oroboro Report.

The report proposes an active green network, an "all-electric (including trams without tracks) transit network connecting the different area projects, decking over the Décarie expressway to improve access, the long-awaited Cavendish link between CSL and St. Laurent, and "new bike and pedestrian connections to the Hippodrome under the CP rail tracks from Décarie Square and Westbury projects."

Team member Ammar Mahimwalla explained that as the area will transition from light industrial and low-density to high-density residential and employment, "transportation and land use are key elements, and that's the two elements we focus on in out report." (The report can be seen at cotesaintluc.org/transitfirst.)

These proposals "can address the challenges of this very fragmented district," the CSL Mayor said.

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