Trading in positive dialogue, non-partisanship, wants no credit for his ideas and thinks the job he wants merits a pay cut, Nicolas Lemire isn’t your typical mayoralty candidate.
The 25-year-old urban planning master’s student authors the popular Pas le maire de laval blog with a decidedly ecological and progressive approach. A “promoter of ideas and not egos,” he cheers for light rail projects in a social media realm typically dominated by anti-pissiklab rants, and famously challenged all parties to pledge to not use fake social media profiles for trolling and attacking opponents, an increasingly popular phenomenon in Quebec’s third largest city.
His Tout est possible manifesto invites all parties to draw on and adopt it for their own use. “I don’t want credit” he told The Suburban, “I just want them to consider my ideas.” The 28-page plan contains 48 proposals on the natural environment, human environment and union of the two. Picking up only 375 votes as an independent in 2017, after the experience of the last year and a half he says, “One thing is clear: There is no returning to normal, but rather taking a step forward. Or two. Or three. Or as many as we can.”
For example, plant a million trees in 10 years. “Just planting to plant” is not the way to go, but rather should be an ambitious part of a larger vision. There are already private and public efforts to do this, “but the piecemeal approach is not effective.” His plan echoes that of Mississauga (www.onemilliontrees.ca) which employs the entire city administration, residents, businesses, schools, homeowners and other stakeholders in the effort. Expanding Laval’s canopy is a win-win, with no politician opposed to simply and quickly reducing heat islands and embellishing public spaces.
If he had to choose one pet project it would be a light surface metro connecting commercial and residential sectors, the downtown, Montreal metros, REM and Pie-IX express bus lane. Building along major arteries serves “where people live, covers busy areas and revitalizes boulevards and neighbourhood hubs… Complete and dense living areas can emerge where right now there are strip malls, parking lots and low density,” he says, adding suggested lines could cover Concorde, Notre-Dame, Curé-Labelle, des Laurentides and Dagenais, developed in phases and financed by all levels of government and completed in 15-20 years.
Tax increases shouldn’t top inflation, councillor salaries hiked while the mayor’s is reduced, and he wants to see 10 public agoras established with budgets of $200,000 to serve as public meeting spaces for consultations or co-design projects with residents and lawmakers close to communities. “By 2030 at least 1% of the budget will be managed democratically.”
Laval also needs more electoral districts according to population he says, referencing Quebec’s municipal elections law allowing up to 36 districts rather than the current 21.
Future park development should welcome more walking paths and wooded areas, and more diverse facilities (skatepark, volleyball, etc.) rather than just classic playgrounds with soccer and baseball fields. He’s proposing a pilot project to open certain public spaces, parks and riverbanks 24 hours a day, because the current schedule of park openings excludes certain people from using the public space and is thus “discriminatory by definition, specifically towards people who don’t own their own property.”
Lemire says “while French needs strong protection to assure it’s perpetuity with pride, the fact is that the communication and the activities of the city are almost exclusively carried out in French and target above all the able-bodied… They do not respond adequately to the reality of the thousands of citizens who like others want to participate fully in civic life despite their circumstances.” (Suburban readers recall that in February Laval announced a full season of library programming for youth with some 60 activities offered, and not one activity or even a single minute offered in English.) To read more of Tout est Possible (in French) visit https://www.facebook.com/paslemairedelaval