• John Jantak

West Island mayors call for immediate action to improve public transit ahead of future development


JOHN JANTAK

Schema commission members Georges Bourelle (left), Mayor of Beaconsfield; Manon Barbe, LaSalle borough Mayor; Claude Dauphin, Lachine borough Mayor; Lionel Perez, Commission President and Côte des Neiges/Notre Dame de Grâce borough Mayor; Paola Hawa, Commission Vice-President and Mayor of Sainte Anne de Bellevue; Gilles Deguire, Montreal North borough Mayor; and Éric Alan Caldwell, Mercier/Hochelaga-Maisonneuve city councillor; preside at a public information meeting last Wednesday at the Dollard des Ormeaux Civic Centre that featured the current status of the Montreal Urban Agglomeration Land Use and Development Plan, also known as the Schéma, for future development on the Island of Montreal.

The mayors of three West Island municipalities said steps should be taken to further develop and improve the region’s existing transportation and public transit network to offset an expected major increase in traffic before large residential developments, such as the one proposed in Pierrefonds West are allowed to proceed.

The development plans were outlined during a public information session attended by over 50 residents at the Dollard des Ormeaux Civic Centre last Wednesday evening, October 22, where the draft version of the Montreal Urban Agglomeration Land Use and Development Plan, also known under the French term as Schéma, was presented for public consideration and consultation by commission representatives.

Paola Hawa, Ste. Anne de Bellevue Mayor and Commission Vice-President; Beaconsfield Mayor and Commission member Georges Bourelle; and Senneville Mayor Jane Guest said they were not opposed to new developments but said bringing more residents into the West Island without having the proper public infrastructure in place, would only further exacerbate the worsening traffic situation on Highways 20 and 40.

Hawa said plans for Pierrefonds West call for the development of 10,000 residential units in the area along Pierrefonds Boulevard west of Château Pierrefonds area after and south of Gouin Boulevard, comprised of various structures including condominiums and townhouses. The new development would straddle the periphery of neighbouring Ste. Anne de Bellevue and Kirkland.

“It’s huge,” Hawa told Your Local Journal. “My concern along with the other mayors is that they’re going to bring in all these people with these cars without addressing the transportation issue.” She said a proposal to build the 440 Boulevard would only add another north/south access road that would further clog traffic on Highway 40.

“The 40 is already jam-packed,” said Hawa. “The only solution really is to get cars off the road and the only way you’re going to do that is to add more trains and more buses. Aside from health care, the Train de l’Ouest is one of the most important issues on the West Island right now.” Bourelle said that while presenting a public transportation plan is not part of the Schéma urban planning mandate, it is the responsibility of the City of Montreal and province to have a mass transportation plan in place for the West Island which presently doesn’t exist.

“If we’re going to add density to the West Island with having a transportation plan, that’s absurd,” said Bourelle. “We have a congested Highway 20 and Highway 40. We don’t have an adequate rail transportation system. It’s fine during the morning rush, not bad during the afternoon rush hour and there’s absolutely nothing in between. And in the evening, if you miss the train at 6:00 or 6:30, there’s no other train until 9:00.”

The proposed Train de l’Ouest would provide regularly scheduled commuters service on weekdays and weekends between Ste. Anne de Bellevue to downtown Montreal before being extended westward to off -island municipalities.

“It’s an absolute must,” said Bourelle. “Our problems are not only north to south; they’re also west to east. There’s no metro coming to the West Island and adding buses, even though you may have dedicated bus lanes, I don’t see it as an answer to our issues.” Even the small village of Senneville on the western periphery of the Island of Montreal has had to deal with increased traffic

congestion during the morning rush commute from the influx of traffic heading east along Highway 40 from off -island municipalities, including Vaudreuil-Dorion and St. Lazare, and agrees more needs to be done to address the lack of adequate public transportation for West Islanders.

“It really affects us,” said Guest. “One of the things I find troublesome about the plan is that it talks a lot about quality of life. Yet, all the roads are gridlocked. We don’t have a good transportation system. The Train de l’Ouest has been on hold and there have been many studies that we’ve spent millions of dollars on and we still don’t see it happening.” “In the meantime, you get these situations where you’re getting high density areas that will be built up and all these people are going to be converging on these same roads,” added Guest.

“There are days when the 40 is backed all the way to our entrance which wasn’t the case fie years ago.” The increased congestion is the result of the rapid growth of off -island communities such as VaudreuilDorion and St. Lazare as more commuters driving onto the western tip of the island into Senneville to head downtown. Some commuters even drive to the West Island so they can park and take the train from Ste. Anne de Bellevue and other stations because it’s cheaper than taking the train from Vaudreuil-Dorion, said Guest.

The public is invited to submit briefs with their proposals in regards to possibly amending the final version of the Montreal Urban Agglomeration Land Use and Development Plan by November 3, two days ahead of the final public consultation meeting scheduled for November 5.

More information is available at http://ville.montreal.qc.ca/portal/page?_pageid=6877,134597929&_dad=portal&_ schema=PORTAL.

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