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PQ’s plan to withdraw funds for urban boulevard sparks war of words

It has been long promised, never built and, once again appears to be on hold.

True to form, the latest plan to build an urban boulevard that would connect Gouin Blvd. with Highway 40 west of St. Charles Blvd., is proving to be a political football.

On Monday, the north-south urban boulevard had the Mayor of Pierrefonds-Roxboro and the Liberal MNA for the West Island riding of Nelligan accusing the Parti Québécois government of playing party politics.

Their accusations followed Friday’s revelations by Quebec’s Transport Minister Sylvain Gaudreault that the province does not intend to contribute $41 million to the $60-million north-south boulevard promised last summer by Pierre Moreau, the then Liberal transport minister.

“This is a political manoeuvre of the worst kind, partisanship,” said MNA Yolande James. “I can’t find the words to describe how angry I am.”

“They are playing politics instead of concentrating on (the needs of) taxpaying citizens,” said Mayor Monique Worth.

On Friday, Gaudreault told reporters in Quebec City that the urban boulevard was “the best example” of Liberal promises made without the required funds during the run-up to the Sept. 4 provincial election.

On Monday, James refuted that claim, noting the money was inscribed in Transport Quebec’s “politique cadre” or infrastructure investment program.

Worth charged the funds are probably being “redirected” to other priorities of the PQ provincial government: “It is their decision to put it all on hold.”

Last summer’s provincial government commitment to the project gave the city of Montreal, the go-ahead it needed to do preliminary studies on the environmental impact of the urban boulevard, said James.

They both said that if the plan does not go forward now, years of municipal and provincial government planning and negotiations will be wasted — and West Islanders will once again be left out to dry.

It can now take up to 45 minutes to travel by car from Gouin Blvd. to the St. Charles Blvd. entrance onto Highway 40 during the morning rush hour. And Kirkland citizens are equally frustrated with the increasing traffic on their streets as motorists try to bypass the bottleneck on St. Charles.

Only two weeks ago, Worth said, she toured the provincial government right-of-way where the new boulevard would be built with Réal Ménard, the city of Montreal’s executive committee member responsible for transportation.

Last month, the 2.8-kilometre roadway was listed by the city of Montreal as one of its six Montreal Island transport priorities.

If plans are shelved, Worth said, the construction of between 5,000 and 6,000 new housing units in western Pierrefonds, a good portion of them directed at young families, will also be jeopardized.

Four developers have also agreed to donate 180 hectares of land that would serve as a green space and a buffer zone between the boulevard and new residential development — an arrangement that would have to be negotiated all over again, Worth said.

It’s the kind of political back-and-forth West Islanders have heard since the early 1980s when Sam Elkas was the provincial Liberal transport minister and, an extension of the 440 from Laval to the West Island was first promised, said Salvatore D’Urso.

“This is just par for the course,” said D’Urso, a Kirkland resident whose residential street, Henri Daoust St. now sees close to 10,000 cars a day – Highway-40 bound motorists trying to bypass the traffic bottlenecks on St. Charles Blvd. “We are used to lies.”

ccornacchia@montrealgazette.com

To read Brenda O’Farrell’s blog on this topic, click here.

5 comments

  1. Pingback: PQ’s plan to withdraw funds for urban boulevard sparks war of words | West Island Gazette « Gregg Rowe

  2. While the need for this urban boulevard to alleviate the current congestion on St. Charles and Henri Daoust cannot be disputed, what is not clear is the impact Mayor Worth’s 6,000 new homes will have on the overall congestion of the region. Assuming one car per house that represents a tremendous increase in local vehicular traffic.

    What is abundantly clear, however, is how desperately Mayor Worth needs the urban boulevard to enable her to issue the building permits that will see her tax base increase. The only ‘green’ Mayor Worth sees is the increased revenue for her cash strapped borough from the new residential development. For Mayor Worth it’s not the environment but the economy that ‘drives’ her.

    As for Yolande James, who “can’t find the words to describe how angry I am”, she now knows how the rest of us felt when we saw her take part in the blatant “political manoeuvre” of announcing the urban boulevard the day before the Provincial election was called on August 1st. There she was shoulder to shoulder with former Liberal transport minister Pierre Moreau and Liberal MNA Pierre Marsan. I’m sure that wasn’t party politics aimed at bolstering support for the Liberal Party! Her hypocrisy is barely masked by her newfound passion.

  3. By Marc Leroux

    Given the shelving of the urban boulevard in Pierrefonds West I think that the conscientious approach for Monique Worth would be to halt the issuing of new building permits in the area. Our roads are already horribly overcrowded leading to many delays and inefficiencies. Antoine Faucon is THE major road in the area and it is in terrible shape. It will have to be rebuilt from beginning to end in the next few years. With few alternate routes this will be a fiasco. The new urban boulevard would relieve much of the congestion and make this roadwork feasible. Even when (I am an optimist) the urban boulevard is approved and completed, I disagree completely with the plan to add 6,000 new homes to the area west of the boulevard. This will lead to the same situation of overcrowded roads and a general lack of alternatives to support the 12,000+ additional cars in the area. The goal should not be to put a home on every green space available, but to improve, or in this case, restore the quality of life for those already living in Pierrefonds.

  4. By Notfallingforit

    Paul’s comment is right on. The urban boul is not for the benefit of the current Pierrefonds or Kirkland residents, it is to give the new 6000 unit development access to the 40. Who benefits? How do youn solve a problem by adding 8000-10,000 new cars on the road? How will that affect traffic on the 40? The urban boul would barely solve the problem with the current population, yet they want to add more. I think (Liberal) Lyne Beauchamp was minister of the environment when Grilli got the ok to build (another Contrecouer?) And wasn’t it Worth was was happy to say in your paper a few months ago that she continues to support Mayor Tremblay. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck! Yoland James seems to be angrier that her entourage’s tricks did not work. Hypocrisy or downright incompetence. We will remember.

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