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New Montreal Dalle Parc and bicycle bridge a go

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Montreal Dalle Parc and bicycle bridge a go – Montreal will see a new large municipal park and bicycle bridge described as a “flagship project” starting in about 2020. This was announced Thursday by key municipal and provincial figures including Mayor Valérie Plante, Deputy Premier Dominique Anglade, and Transport Minister André Fortin, among others.

Plante referred to the history of the Dalle-Parc project, originally promised by a former Liberal government in 2010, describing it as “disappointing” that the bridge was not built then. She also praised community activists “both at the top of the hill (in NDG) and at the bottom (in the Southwest) who fought for the project.”

Plante also praised Transport Minister Fortin for having the willingness to push this project forward. “It was one of the first things I discussed with him in November (after becoming mayor),” she noted. Plante said that the bicycle bridge would promote active transport (bicycling and walking) and connect neighbourhoods otherwise now disconnected from each other.

The setting for the announcement was Terry Fox Park on top of the St. Jacques Escarpment where some 90 people turned out for the event. Other officials speaking included Kathleen Weil (MNA for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce), Luc Ferrandez (responsible for large parks in the Plante administration, and Sue Montgomery (borough mayor of Cote-des-Neiges/ Notre-Dame-de-Grâce).

Mayor Valérie Plante speaks at Dalle-Parc press conference to announce that Montreal and the Quebec government are working together to create the Dalle-Parc bicycle bridge and a new 60 hectare park that will include the St. Jacques Escarpment. Luc Ferrandez, Sue Montgomery, Dominique Anglade, and Kathleen Weil listen. ©John Symon

In the audience we saw Benoit Dorais (Plante’s chair of the Executive Committee), Craig Sauvé (Plante’s transport spokesman), Peter McQueen (councillor: NDG), and Christian Arsenault (Loyola).

While The Times previously reported that the bicycle bridge over the new Highway 20 was going ahead, and hinted that the St. Jacques Escarpment would soon be made into a park, today an additional announcement was made of a new 30 hectare park to be created in what is now the Turcot Yards. The two parks will be linked by the bicycle bridge.

As indicated by Ferrandez, both former Montreal mayors Jean Drapeau and Pierre Bourque, in their times, tried to create a park on the Escarpment. Ferrandez also intimated that creating the parks and bicycle bridge is part of a larger effort to transform St. Jacques Street in NDG, an area now known for its cheap motels, garages and car body shops.

Both Weil and Montgomery praised Lisa Mintz of Sauvons la Falaise as a citizen who played a big role with both the bicycle bridge and the new park.

Questions from the media demonstrated skepticism of such a big announcement without a firm calendar or budget being made only about 3 months before a provincial election. The Times also asked if a percentage of the Transport Minstry’s budget was earmarked for active transport. Few concrete details were provided to any of these questions.

McQueen, a Dalle-Parc supporter since 2010, spoke to us after the announcement: “I’m very happy. I would have preferred that this be done 5 years ago, it is one of the first things (Projet Montréal) addressed since taking office. Fortin is right; we have to wait until the Turcot project is finished before building the bridge or the new park. His timeline is reasonable.”

We asked Sauvé, another long-time Dalle-Parc supporter for comment; he simply responded: “Hallelujah!”

Feature image: Dalle-Parc Montreal

By: John Symon – info@mtltimes.ca
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