Mayoral candidates promise culture, trams, affordable housing
Published Thursday, September 26, 2013 8:08PM EDT
Candidates vying to become Montreal’s city’s fourth mayor since last November were out Thursday trying to enthuse voters.
Denis Coderre vowed that he’d appoint three elected officials to dedicate themselves to cultural affairs.
Coderre, if elected November 3, would put considerable effort into creating a big party for the city’s 375th anniversary in 2017. The year is also the Canada’s 150th anniversary of confederation and the 50th anniversary of Expo ’67.
“Everything is culture,” said Coderre. “Every time that you develop your city, you have to put that signature on it, so design and architecture is key also in the way that you want to be perceived as a city.”
Coderre also took a swipe at rival Richard Bergeron’s promise to create a new tramway by 2017.
“It's not monopoly money. You can dream, but I think you have to be realistic,” said Coderre. “It’s taxpayers' money.”
Bergeron said that his 15-kilometre tramway plan is feasible, even at the price of $40-50 million per kilometre.
“People have the choice to believe Denis Coderre, or believe Richard Bergeron. I know what I'm speaking about. I remember that the metro was built between 1962 and 1966, in four years,” said Projet Montreal mayoral candidate Richard Bergeron.
Bergeron also wants to redevelop the city's empty lots and ground-level parking lots, calling them a "waste of space."
He favours housing and commercial development on those lots, with parking underground or on the first floors of the buildings.
“I consider that the potential of downtown Montreal is 75,000 more people, living here in the core of the city,” he said.
Coalition Montreal’s Marcel Cote, for his part, was promising the creation of 2,000 new affordable three-bedroom housing units per year, in an effort to stem the tide of approximately 22,000 people moving to off-island municipalities each year.
“Cities offer close access. You don't need two cars. You have the subway about five minutes from here. These are great assets, but if we just build condos next to the subway, families won't stay here,” said Marcel Cote of the Coalition Montreal.
Montreal's last elected mayor, Gerald Tremblay, resigned last November 6 following party funding allegations made at the Charbonneau Commission.
Michael Applebaum and Laurent Saulnier have since served as interim mayor.