Last week, Gazette columnist Martin Patriquin, with relish, took aim at Westmount in his piece last week on a court case involving that city and those responsible for rebuilding the Ville Marie Expressway.
“Some stereotypes die for good reason,” he wrote last Thursday. “The City of Westmount, for example, is no longer the exclusive home to what René Lévesque once dismissed as “white Rhodesians” — haughty WASPs, noses hiked high in the air, whose use of French was limited to asking the help to bring a Pimm’s Cup to the lanai. Today, nearly a quarter of the burgh’s 20,000 souls have French tongues, and over 75 per cent are bilingual. Westmount’s demographics may have shifted, the edges may have come off its blue-blooded pedigree, but its sense of entitlement remains stubbornly intact.”
Patriquin was referring to Westmount’s unsuccessful attempt to get an injunction to stop construction on the expressway, citing noise pollution as harmful to its residents.
I have no opinion as to whether Westmount is right or not (we’ve had our own issues with that city regarding their reluctance to install bilingual parking signs, as is their right as a bilingual municipality), but for some strange reason, Patriquin dragged Côte St. Luc into his pursuit against those with a “sense of entitlement.”
“Westmount is hardly the only burgh to bridle at incursions from the outside world,” Patriquin wrote. “The city of Côte St. Luc has for over 50 years stymied the very reasonable idea of extending Cavendish to connect it with the neighbouring borough of St-Laurent.”
Patriquin would be right.... if this was 1997, or 1980. However, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau might say, “it’s 2018.”
For at least a couple of decades up to 1997, Côte St. Luc was indeed an impediment to the Cavendish link. Then-Mayor Bernard Lang, who served in that position from 1976 to 1998, was dead set against it, famously saying “we don’t want it, we don’t need it, and we can’t afford it.” I distinctly remember the frustration with that point of view from St. Laurent council members in the 1990s.
But, starting with the Côte St. Luc administration under Robert Libman in 1998, and continuing with Anthony Housefather and the current Mayor, Mitchell Brownstein, Côte St. Luc has been a leading advocate for what is envisioned as an indirect link. Brownstein has been very active on the issue, having numerous meetings with provincial and municipal representatives on an ongoing basis.
Housefather not only heavily tackled the issue as Mayor, but raised the topic in the House of Commons not long after he was elected the MP for Mount Royal in late 2015.
“We have talked about it for 50 years and it still has not happened,” he said at the time. “All of the cities in the agglomeration of Montreal, which is our regional government, strongly support the Cavendish extension. Over the last 10 years, we put $5 million into developing the engineering plans to make this project happen. I hope that everyone in the House will show their support. This project is very important to me.”
Last Thursday morning, I tweeted Patriquin on his article on Twitter. He replied with an item from CSL’s website. “A north-south Cavendish Blvd. link is the missing piece in the island of Montreal road network. Initial discussions on connecting its two parts started in the mid 1960s and major studies were done in 1981, 1988, 1992, 1995, 1996 and 2000.”
To which I responded with many of the points raised above, and also pointed out that Côte St. Luc, St. Laurent, Town of Mount Royal and Côte des Neiges-NDG all now favour the link.
A sharp-eyed reader identifying himself as Gordon Hubble of Ontario made the same point, in a Facebook comment on The Gazette’s website, but in edgier terms I won’t reproduce.
Patriquin might want to attend a Côte St. Luc council meeting sometime, where council regulars like Bernard Tonchin and Irving Itman have periodically asked for a status report on the link, to which Brownstein provides very detailed answers.