• John Jantak

Pilon says Highway 20 completion needed for successful Harwood Boulevard transformation


Michel Vaillancourt, Engineering Director of the Service du développement et de l’aménagement du territoire (SDAT), Vaudreuil-Dorion Mayor Guy Pilon, and city Urban Planner Martin Paré listen to presentations made by various community organizations during a public consultation meeting concerning the proposed revitalization of Harwood Boulevard.

With residential development of the southern section of Vaudreuil-Dorion bounded by Highways 30 and 40 almost completed, the city is shifting its focus and looking north towards the centre of the municipality, along the entire stretch of Harwood Boulevard to continue its expansion plans.

In line with the city’s request for direct participation from residents, store owners and community groups, about 70 people attended the final public consultation session designed to gather input from citizens and stakeholders on how best to improve the busy boulevard, last Thursday, February 5 at the Opti-Centre.

Mayor Guy Pilon, along with Michel Vaillancourt, Engineering Director of the Service du développement et de l’aménagement du territoire (SDAT), and city urban planner Martin Paré chaired the meeting and listened to the presentations.

“This is the future,” Pilon told Your Local Journal. “We cannot expand anymore in areas designated as green space or in wet zones. We have to make sure the city, wherever possible, has a second life, and this is exactly what we want to do with Harwood, to revive and rejuvenate it.”

It may seem like a daunting task to transform a busy artery that’s usually choked with morning and afternoon rush hour traffic along Harwood, also known as the Highway 20 extension, into a tranquil, community-oriented sector – but Pilon is confident a complete transformation is possible, provided Highway 20 is completed in the long-run.

It was also one of several recommendations among the five briefs that were submitted by community organizations, including a joint report from the Vaudreuil-Soulanges Centre local de devéloppement (CLD) and Chambre de commerce et d’industrie de Vaudreuil-Soulanges (CCIVS) that also stressed the importance of completing Highway 20 for the future success of the Harwood revitalization program.

As it stands now, people have an overall dim view of Harwood Boulevard. In an online survey completed by 223 people on the city’s website last November, just over 60 per cent of respondents said the traffic noise level is unacceptable, another 60 per cent said artery and neighbourhood lack dynamism, and more than 86 per cent disagreed with the statement that “the neighbourhood is attractive.”

The key to rejuvenating Harwood and to bring more residents into the area is to transform it into an urban village, a self-sufficient neighbourhood with an emphasis on community participation, more public transit, and making it a bike and pedestrian friendly milieu, said Pilon.

Other recommendations included providing incentives to attract more merchants and specialty shops, having dedicated bicycle lanes, community gardens, affordable housing, providing more public access to the waterfront along the Ottawa River, and staging more cultural activities and events including the annual Fête Nationale parade and Festival international de cirque.

Pilon said that up to 80 per cent of the city’s multi-year development plans for reviving the Harwood area could be completed without being adversely affected by traffic concerns. But he again stressed the need for the provincial government to complete Highway 20 in order for Harwood Boulevard to become the true, people friendly urban village that the city envisions