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Road over Mount Royal to be closed to traffic as part of redevelopment project

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The City of Montreal plans to close Camillien-Houde Way over Mount Royal to through traffic and transform it into a path for cyclists and pedestrians.

The redevelopment project will add 18,000 square metres of green space, the equivalent of three football fields, to the park by 2029, the Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante announced Wednesday.

The asphalt will be ripped up and replaced with trees, a wide pedestrian path, and a protected bike lane.

Emergency vehicles will still have access to the park, assured Plante.

The plan also involves turning the lookout on Camillien-Houde into a park space and creating a new lookout at the highest point of the road.

Cars will able to access the park via Remembrance Road. The two parking lots at Beaver Lake and Smith House will stay put, and more spaces will be added for families and people with reduced mobility.

"We made this decision with great sensitivity so that Mount Royal, which is the lung and icon of Montreal, offers an enhanced visitor experience, for the benefit of the pressing needs of our time and future generations," said Plante in a news release on Wednedsay.

Traffic will flow as usual until work begins in 2027.

Plans for the future Camillien-Houde Belvedere in Montreal (image: City of Montreal)

YEARS-LONG DEBATE

The traffic debate on Mount Royal began in 2017, when a cyclist was struck and killed by a vehicle making an illegal U-turn on the mountain.

The collision sparked safety concerns, leading to the closure of Camillien-Houde to cars for several months in 2018 as part of a pilot project.

The city hailed the project as a success. However, a report from the city's public consultation office (OPCM) found that banning cars did not reduce the number of cars but rather moved them to surrounding streets.

The issue remerged this year when the city began analyzing three options—keeping the status quo, closing the road to all traffic, or keeping it open for emergency vehicles only.

"When the OCPM report came out, it was in 2019, and I feel like the world has changed since then a lot. We are now facing climate change," said Plante.

Meantime, the opposition is worried about where the 10,000 vehicles that use the road will go.

"How many greenhouse emissions is this? How much more time is it going to take these people to get where they need to get?" said Aref Salem, city councillor for Saint-Laurent and member of Ensemble Montreal.

Some argue that closing the road would only benefit a small segment of the population—primarily high-level cyclists who train on the mountain. "It seems to be a war on cars," said Jennifer Crane, a Montrealer who opposes the road closure.

"You see problems in Park Extension. You see problems in Rosemont with implanting bike lanes and stuff like that. It's perfectly fine, but the basic thing—it doesn't seem to be about safety," said Crane, who led a petition against the pilot project that obtained 40,000 signatures.

The city tried other traffic calming measures following the 2018 pilot project. Those included limiting one stretch of Camillien-Houde to one lane and controlling traffic there via alternating traffic lights.

-With files from CTV’s Rob Lurie  

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