Although the Town of Mount Royal has approved the Royalmount project on the site neighbouring the Decarie Expressway and Highway 40, the controversy and some strong opposition to the project have not ceased. The huge project involves the construction of six office towers, a shopping centre, a large recreation area that would include an aquatic park and an aquarium, hotels, a theatre and cinemas, and parking space for 8,000 cars.
“We often witness enough the lack of vision in some municipalities that leave the field open to entrepreneurs without first providing the infrastructure necessary for their development. And we find ourselves in situations like those on Nuns’ Island, Vaudreuil, St. Lazare, Ste. Therese, and how many others, where citizens struggle every day to get out of their place of residence and back after their workday, with children in the back to be driven in a race to school or daycare,” wrote to us Judith Despaties, who describes herself as “a St. Laurent citizen worried of what the future Royalmount holds for the future.”
The developer’s promises of making the complex accessible by metro by including a pedestrian path that would connect it to the Namur station is also dismissed by Ms. Despaties. “Since when do ‘shoppers’ and their big shopping bags travel by subway?, a metro that will soon have difficulty meeting the needs of its customers on several of its lines, given the many developments under construction on the Island of Montréal and in the surrounding suburbs. […] I have family living in Brossard who tell me they experienced the same type of promise by Dix 30 whose owners envisaged to build an overpass crossing above Highway 10 but at the expense of the City of Brossard. Brossard citizens were vigilant, opposed the project, and the overpass is still not built” she said in her letter.
Concerns over the huge project have also been aired on various media: Bertrand Schepper wrote a column in “Le Journal de Montréal” last January in which he pointed out some of its apparent disadvantages: 1. Traffic congestion, at an intersection that is already one of the most congested on the island. 2. Traffic cost, i.e. the consequences in actual dollars of the congestion. 3. Environmental impact, although the developers are emphasizing the access by metro, the most likely scenario is that those visiting the area would do it by car, with the additional increase in emissions due to the extended stays on the highway due to congestion. 4. The tax revenues, a factor that has attracted favourable attention on the part of city councillors in both, Mount Royal (projected annual tax revenues of 25.5 million) and Montreal (projected revenues 25.8 million). However, the latter would have to deal with most of the negative consequences for its citizens for the traffic jams and other probable adverse effects on the lives of its citizens in the neighbouring boroughs.
In sum, it is likely that if opposition to the Royalmount project mounts and citizens mobilize against it, probably those who approved the development would have to change their decision. It seems then that the last word on the massive project has not been said yet.
Feature image: Aerial view of what the Royalmount would look like