Mayor asks Bergeron to step down from Executive Committee
Projet Montreal Leader Richard Bergeron vows this fight is not over.
The leader of the second opposition party at city hall was ousted from his seat on the Executive Committee because of his refusal to endorse the Quebec government's latest proposal for a re-vamped Turcot Interchange, one Mayor Gerald Tremblay favours.
As the Executive Committee member responsible for urban development, Bergeron's support would be a big political lift for the project. Tremblay said that support was necessary so the city showed "solidarity" on the project, but Bergeron said he cannot endorse a project that sees people expropriated from their homes to build a highway.
So Tremblay asked him to step down from his position on the Executive Committee, but Bergeron says it won't stop him from fighting the project.
"The battle for Turcot is not finished," he said at a Friday news conference. "It begins."
The province will announce the new project Tuesday, but Friday afternoon Tremblay was back in front of reporters trying to paint it in a good light.
"It's not perfect, it's not everything we wanted, but it answers the priority we had expressed to the Quebec Government," Tremblay said.
That priority was to lessen the impact on residents living underneath the existing elevated structure. The original plan called for 170 families to be kicked out of their homes through forced expropriations, but that number has now been scaled down to 106.
The city had also asked for public transit to be incorporated into the project, a big priority for Bergeron, and the province's response was a single reserved bus lane.
"We are not satisfied," said Vision Montreal Leader Louise Harel. "We think the people need more, Montrealers need more and we ask for more."
The $3 billion price tag for the project is coming entirely from the provincial government, which is why Tremblay repeatedly referred to it as "their" project Friday and also why the city has limited influence on the final outcome.
"It's better to be there and try to continue to improve the project than not to be there," Tremblay said.
Despite being the point man for urban development in Montreal, Bergeron has been complaining for weeks that he has not seen any of the planned revisions to the Turcot Interchange ever since the province's environmental commission (BAPE) sent the plans back to the drawing board.
In a gesture of political reconciliation, Bergeron was invited to serve on the committee by Tremblay after last year's city election.
Transport Quebec is scheduled to announce the latest plans for the Turcot interchange project on Tuesday, but Tremblay says it is not final and negotiations on the project will continue until the end of this year.