Mayor Valérie Plante is expected to announce this Wednesday that Camillien-Houde Lane will be transformed into a park path closed to cars, but accessible to emergency vehicles, we learned. The Press.
The decision, confirmed by various sources, comes after years of procrastination over the future of the main access to Mount Royal, amid concerns for ecology, safety and accessibility.
Valérie Plante’s office did not wish to confirm or deny our information when asked to do so on Tuesday. “We will not make an announcement today,” simply indicated the mayor’s press secretary, Catherine Cadotte, limiting herself to saying that a press conference will be held this Wednesday.
On X, Mme Plante nevertheless indicated Tuesday that she will present this Wednesday “an ambitious vision for the future of Mount Royal.”
When it comes to taking action for safety, the environment and access to the mountains, while taking into account today’s realities and tomorrow’s challenges, we respond.
Valérie Plante, mayor of Montreal, on
In the past, Valérie Plante has often been open to the redevelopment of the Camillien-Houde route, where the death of Clément Ouimet, a young 18-year-old cyclist, during a collision with a motorist had left its mark in 2017.
Two years later, after a pilot project blocking through traffic, the mayor argued that the status quo was “no longer possible”.
Firefighters opposed to complete closure
At the end of August, The Press revealed that the Plante administration had asked Montreal firefighters for their opinion on the possibility of completely closing the road to vehicles.
“A new option consisting of developing the Camillien-Houde lane for the exclusive use of pedestrians and cyclists” is being studied by the City, revealed a note from the Montreal Fire Safety Service (SIM). The service, however, was opposed to the idea: “According to our studies, there will be an increase in our travel times. »
At the end of the document, the SIM stated that it favored the status quo. “In the event that there is a modification”, the development of an “emergency road six meters wide and cleared of snow in winter” would be “necessary”, said the service. This width would allow “a vehicle to pass pedestrians even if there are snow banks”.
Last spring, the municipal council voted for a loan of 45 million to finance the design and construction of redevelopment work on Camillien-Houde Road and Remembrance Road, to be carried out by 2026.
The documents given to elected officials before the vote, however, did not mention the possibility of completely closing the Camillien-Houde route to cars – the person responsible for mobility within the Plante administration simply mentioned a “very exciting proposal”.
The following month, Mayor Valérie Plante lamented that the project was taking longer than expected to see the light of day. She spoke while a cousin of Clément Ouimet had just been himself the victim of a motorist who lost control of his vehicle. He was not seriously injured.
The administration is turning “its back on the 2019 consultations in which more than 10,000 people participated” and is allowing itself “to throw the recommendations of the Office de consultation publique de Montréal in the trash,” lamented the leader of the opposition , Aref Salem. This report recommended transforming the road which crosses the mountain into a “pleasure path”, but keeping “vehicle traffic on the entire axis”.
“The organization was then under the presidency of Mr.me Dominique Ollivier, who is today president of the executive committee of the Plante administration, he continued. This once again demonstrates Projet Montréal’s habit of governing according to an ideology rather than according to the will and concerns of the Montreal population. »
“An ambitious project”
The CEO of Vélo Québec, Jean-François Rheault, indicated Tuesday that “if all this is confirmed, it would mean that the City is moving forward with an ambitious project that goes well beyond mobility.”
“Rarely, in the history of a city, have we had the opportunity to expand a park from the inside. And if this is indeed the case, then by eliminating the Camillien-Houde highway, we find ourselves opening up park areas, improving the canopy and improving friendliness for pedestrians and cyclists. I think that civil society is asking for an ambitious project and this would be the right time to do it,” continued Mr. Rheault, visibly delighted by the news.
Danielle Pilette, professor at UQAM specializing in municipal management, also agrees in an interview.
It was necessary. Mount Royal is the lungs of Montreal and the current situation could not continue, that is certain. As long as there is no disincentive measure, we know full well that there will be through traffic.
Danielle Pilette, professor at UQAM
“The problem is really the through traffic to cover the distance more quickly and, unfortunately, the City has not really been able to take measures to ensure that it stops. At this point, therefore, the solution is perhaps indeed to put an end to the circulation of cars,” adds the professor.
In his eyes, “the worst has been avoided, that is to say that emergency vehicles will still be able to circulate”. “The opposite would have been completely excessive and it would hardly have been possible with the Montreal police horses upstairs which have to be transported somewhere,” concludes M.me Pilette.