Montreal prepares for massive urban growth
Published Tuesday, September 27, 2016 10:20PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, September 28, 2016 8:30AM EDT
The city of Montreal is preparing for an influx of residents to the downtown core, and listening to ideas about how they will move around.
Montreal is expecting 50,000 people to move downtown by 2030, with another 50,000 by 2050.
It's all part of a long-term strategy to bring more people and business to the city centre and prevent the doughnut effect that has crippled other urban areas.
Part of the idea is to convert former hospitals into living spaces and making them the centres of new communities.
Dominique Ollivier is the head of the public consultation office of Montreal (OCPM), and is overseeing hearings that began Sunday.
"We know that more and more jobs and possibility of development are being done into cities and not into rural areas right now," said Ollivier.
The hearings focus on four main themes: access to the river, economic development, urban life, and transportation.
Tuesday's hearing focused on transportation, with discussions about the impact of the Bonaventure Expressway rebuild, the impact of the Turcot Interchange and Ville Marie Expressway changes, and changes to city streets.
Mathieu Levesque said his concern was how tens of thousands of new people would get around a city already known for horrendous traffic congestion.
He is hoping that public transit could be greatly improved, The Caisse de Depot's proposed REM could be used by thousands of commuters, but that system's main focus is on bringing suburban residents downtown.
Levesque was one of many hoping for tramways on major Montreal arteries, pointing out light rail or electric buses are "more cost effective, using less energy, and taking up less space."
However many people pointed out that existing bus and metro lines are already operating at or above capacity.
At Tuesday's hearing, which focused on transportation, it was noted that half of all trips in downtown Montreal are made via public transit, with cars making up another 30 percent.
Cycling advocate Magali Bebronne pointed out that bicycles are a growing part of the transportation network that needs more support.
"South of De Maisonneuve you almost have no cycling network at all, so we really need to fix that," said Bebronne.
She said Montreal needs to do more to make bike paths and city streets safe for cyclists of all ages and abilities.
Throughout September people are encouraged to fill out a questionnaire presented by the OCPM.
Three more public hearings will take place next week, while people are encourage to submit written briefs until November 3rd.