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Residents on both sides of Park Ex bike lane debate protest outside borough council meeting

Banging on drums and ringing a cowbell, dozens of residents showed up outside a council meeting in the Villeray–Saint-Michel–Parc-Extension borough to loudly protest the removal of more than 250 parking spots to make way for new bike paths.

Several police officers were called to keep an eye on the demonstration that has pitted car users and cyclists against each other, and put city councillors in hot water over a lack of public consultations over the project.

"There weren't any choices. Public consultation was not on on the books at all. Decisions were made, seemingly, by individuals who do not understand the livelihood and the unique fibre of Park Eextension. That is why we're asking for public consultation," said Sia Spanoudakis, a member of the Coalition for Democracy Park Extension, in an interview before the meeting started.

Residents are upset that the borough got rid of the parking spaces to make way for an upgraded bike lanes on streets like Ball, Querbes and l'Épée streets.

Several people, on both sides of the debate, shouted during the protest and held signs that said "Let us park in Park Ex" and "Parking matters." Another sign read: "A road for everyone," with symbols depicting a bicycle and a "P" for parking.

Dozens of residents attended the protest on Tuesday. (CTV News)

The boisterous crowd at one point chanted "We want parking. Gardez les stationnements."

"The plan has already been implemented on Ball [Avenue]. It's now only a one-way street. Most of the street, parking has been removed on one side. Already, residents on neighboring streets are frustrated, they're realizing and feeling the crunch of lack of parking," said Spanoudakis outside the borough meeting.

Valérie, a Park Extension residents for the past 10 years and mother of two, said she supports the plan to create more bike lanes because the ones that were there before were not segregated.

"It's [needed] for a fairer share of the streets, as well security, equity, and also to help connect the neighbourhood to other neighbourhoods because Park Extension is very [enclosed] so it's hard to get out of the neighbourhood," she said during the protest.

"I understand that it's frustrating to lose parking although I think anywhere you put a bike path there would have been a loss of parking."

Inside the meeting, several residents questioned Mayor Laurence Lavigne Lalonde and other councillors over the borough's decision to remove the bike lanes without consulting them, and what studies were done to justify the project.

One woman asked councillors to find another solution.

"I'm not asking you to favour one side over the other. But there has to be a happy middle point. And from what I'm hearing and being outside just before I came in here, people are not happy. They're screaming," she told councillors. 

Lavigne Lalonde said reconfguring the roadways has to confirm with evolving road safety standards and be signed off by engineers, adding that the borough had to make a "difficult" decision. She said she's open to finding more parking spaces in the borough, but "we're not capable of finding 250. That's for sure."

The next borough council meeting will be held Nov. 7. Top Stories

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