From the day it was announced in February of 2018 by Projet Montreal’s Luc Ferrandez, the mayor of the Plateau Mont-Royal borough and member of the city’s executive committee responsible for large parks, that the city would be holding a pilot project starting in June, banning most vehicles from crossing over Mount Royal – it was met with strong opposition and even outrage from thousands of Montrealers. Ferrandez still applauded the project after it was over as city officials presented the report to the executive committee. He maintained they were “extremely satisfied, even joyful. In fact, it was more than we hoped for”. But those words ring hollow now that the verdict is out.
The report from the Office of the Public Advisory of Montreal (OCPM) on access roads to Mount Royal via Camillien-Houde-Remembrance roadway was released on Thursday May 2nd 2019 – and it is a scathing report. The OCPM report contains recommendations based on the perceptions of the citizens who participated in the consultation. Nearly half of these recommendations concern safety. It also recommends that car traffic across the mountain should be allowed to continue, but the road could be developed as a recreational road ‘that people would use because it is a pleasant drive, and not as a shortcut’. It also states ‘that reducing through traffic cannot happen without major public transit improvement’. Other recommendations include ensuring the road can be shared by all users, installing barriers between cyclists and drivers and pedestrians, and that access to the Camillien-Houde lookout be improved.
Mayor Valerie Plante, who supported the project, maintained throughout it that it was a ‘Pilot Project’ and she would listen to Montrealers opinions and concerns. Now that the report is out, it appears she is keeping her promise. “I intend to respect the recommendations of the OCPM as I committed myself to during the past year. Traffic will be possible on Camillien-Houde, but today, this report also signs the end of the Camillien-Houde motorway. In this regard, the OCPM’s report is clear, the status quo is no longer possible, as the results of the consultation demonstrate. The road will become a soothing and safe path for everyone. Moreover, transitional arrangements will allow us to bridge this vision this summer,” she stated in a press release.
“Mount Royal is a jewel, a green lung in the heart of the island. It belongs to all Montrealers. And everyone must have access to it safely. The Camillien-Houde ‘highway’ is a thing of the past. We are now looking to the future. From now on, pedestrians, cyclists, buses and cars will have to cohabit in respect,” she concluded. On Twitter she wrote, “Many of the recommendations are in line with our vision of making the mountain safe for all. Camilien-Houde will become a safe course”. As a result, this summer, a temporary, safety-focused development will be rolled out by the City and all details will be released in the coming weeks. With respect to the longer-term vision of the recreational path, as recommended by the OCPM, the City will begin the work as soon as possible.