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Police escort residents out of Park Ex council meeting during heated debate over bike lanes

A debate over parking spaces in Park Extension is reaching a boiling point once again.

On Tuesday, a borough council meeting became so heated that residents had to be escorted out by police.

The city plans to build protected bike lanes on either side of Querbes Avenue and remove 250 parking spaces. It's a highly contentious issue in the neighbourhood.

The meeting got out of hand when a mother of four asked: "If you put the bike path on the side and no parking on one side, where do I park?"

The audience applauded the question and booed at the response from Borough Mayor Laurence Lavigne Lalonde.

"We knew when we did that, that it would impact the citizens, that you would have to change the way you do things normally," she said.

A number of people had to be escorted out, a scene the borough removed from its web stream.

Mary Deros, a councillor with the opposition, says she understands the frustration.

"People got very upset. They were yelling, some used nasty words, and I've never seen our council so disrupted," she said.

Park Extension is a densely populated neighbourhood. Many residents say it's already a struggle to find parking and feel unheard by borough officials.

"Why is this getting out of hand? Because nobody's being listened to," said Stella Bailakis, one of the residents asked to leave the meeting.

"The more you congest one place, then it's going to start having a snowball effect. What happens in the winter?" she added.

The borough mayor says the old painted bike paths aren't up to modern standards, adding that 50 per cent of the population in Park Extension don't own a car.

"Just from my office to here, there's over 100 bicycles locked on balconies. Those 100 people they don't have a safe way to go to work or go to school with their children. This is my concern," said Lalonde.

Some in the area say they've been asking for safer cycling infrastructure in the neighbourhood for years.

"I have young kids, and I want them to have safe bike paths," said resident Valerie Darveau.

While the mayor says the plans have been finalized, Deros says it's been poorly planned, and the public should have been consulted.

"People are frustrated, they're upset because they have no answers," said Deros.

Bailakis says she is encouraged by the level of civic involvement in her neighbourhood but says she and her neighbours feel pushed aside.

"Totally discouraged because I thought we live in a democracy," she said. Top Stories

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