Ensemble Montreal announces plan to rebuild a “dangerous urban highway”
Ensemble Montréal candidates gathered on Tuesday morning at Centennial Park on Saint-Roch street to announce a plan that would work to rethink and rebuild de L’Acadie Boulevard. They hope the overhaul would make it safer for pedestrians and cyclists while better integrating the neighbourhoods of Parc-Extension and the Town of Mount Royal.
“Anyone who’s has eyes can see that a citizen to the west side is obviously much more favoured than one on the east side,” said borough mayoral candidate Guillaume Lavoie a mere two blocks from one of the cities busiest arteries. “Our vision, our goal is that there’ll no longer be a visible scar there,” he added.
The announcement was made by mayoral candidate Denis Coderre, borough mayoral candidate Guillaume Lavoie and sitting city councillor for Parc-Extension Mary Deros. “I was talking to police officers earlier who told me that this is more like a highway. It’s really dangerous. When you go from the Rockland center to here, it’s hell,” stated Coderre.
If re-elected, Ensemble Montréal promises it would work towards making the boulevard more pedestrian-friendly and also remove the fence which has long separated the two neighbourhoods.
“There are many areas in Montreal that you can see with your own eyes that there is a lack of love for certain neighbourhoods and certain citizens, but I don’t think that there are many places that it is as evident as on de L’Acadie boulevard,” stated Lavoie. “For me, this is a symbol of social inequities,” added former mayor Denis Coderre.
Although no specific plans have yet been put forward, Ensemble Montréal said they would reduce the speed limit to 40 km/h, plant trees on both the middle and side medians and work with the Town of Mount Royal to remove the fence which has long attracted controversy.
“Ville Mont-Royal protects itself with a green wall and a fence so that their families can be safe,” said city councillor Mary Deros. “But the kids and the families of Parc-Extension have always been in concrete without any trees,” added Deros.
“De L’Acadie has always been just concrete, so it’s a project that I am welcoming with great joy,” explained the City Councillor.
Should have been done earlier
For her part, current borough mayor Giuliana Fumagalli welcomes any effort at greening streets and making the city more livable. “We need to be able to make de L’Acadie a street where people feel safe and where we actually have more green space so that we don’t have heat islands,” said Fumagalli.
The mayor nonetheless questioned why de L’Acadie had only now become a priority for Ensemble Montréal and asked why city councillor Deros had not tackled the issue sooner.
“Why does it take them almost 25 years to work on de L’Acadie when they had lots of opportunities and 25 years to actually do something?” she asked, adding that she felt it would advantage residents of Town of Mount Royal (TMR) the most.
“You know what the mayor of TMR wants to do, he wants to take the fence down and he wants to put in a bicycle lane on de L’Acadie. But guess on what side of de L’Acadie? On the TMR side,” stated the mayor, adding that it was meant to facilitate access to the metro for TMR residents.
In an interview conducted by TVA Nouvelles, mayor Philippe Roy stated he would be open to the idea of taking down the fence, but said this was conditional on appeasing traffic on the boulevard.
“The fence is the result of something. This is the result of the construction of Boulevard de l’Acadie in Montreal, which is a six-lane highway in a residential area,” stated the mayor, reminding people it was built for the security of local families. The final decision also rests with his municipality as the fence is on Town of Mount Royal property.
“The fence could be turned into something much more contemporary such as a linear park or a bike path,” said Roy to TVA Nouvelles, adding “if Montreal is willing to review the development of de L’Acadie, I don’t see why the fence would stay in place.”
Mayor Roy is not running for reelection in the fall but told LaPresse that he hopes the next mayor will look into solving the matter and that the city center will cooperate. “We have constantly brought forward ideas on our side over the years, but each time we did not have a follow-up from the city center,” added Roy.