Ste-Catherine St. proposal would eliminate parking, reduce traffic to 1 lane
Published Monday, March 5, 2018 2:05PM EST
Last Updated Monday, March 5, 2018 6:41PM EST
Ste-Catherine St. might take on a very different look with much fewer cars if the city approves a plan that’s expected to be presented in April.
Under the terms of the plan, the sidewalks along the street would be extended from four metres to seven. That would reduce traffic to one lane and eliminate all parking along the street.
It would be an extension of an existing revitalization project for Ste-Catherine St., which began in January.
City officials declined CTV Montreal’s requests for an interview.
Lionel Perez, leader of official opposition party Ensemble Montreal, said the plan was based in ideology and not reality.
"It's very, very worrisome what kind of impact this decision can have," he said. "It ignores the fact that people come for business, they come as tourists, they come for shopping and for other needs. There's a reality. People do use their cars. They're not proposing an alternative to have parking off site."
He added that wider sidewalks would prove unneccessary during the winter months and said a better option would be multi-functional lanes that would serve as car lanes, bike lanes or sidewalks depending on the season.
Urban planning expert Miguel Escobar said Montreal's pedestrian traffic is congested, on par with some streets in New York City. However, he cautioned a balance must be struck between pedestrian and car traffic, calling one lane for cars "very, very tight."
"We need much larger sidewalks, for sure, but we shouldn't cut traffic out altogether," he said. "Retail is competing now with online e-commerce and it's very tough to compete with not only e-commerce but suburban retail stores that have free parking."
The plan has drawn fire from business owners, with one saying that if it’s approved, it would force him to close up shop.
It’s not the first proposal from Mayor Valerie Plante’s administration aimed at reducing the number cars on Montreal’s streets. A plan to Camillien Houde Way on Mount Royal to traffic has sparked opposition from both municipal politicians and residents, with one petition against the move gaining over 17,000 signatures.
Perez compared the two initiatives, saying neither had involved proper public consultation.
"Sure, they're talking to a few people and a few associations, but there's no real consultation, like was done for the previous project, to make sure there's social acceptability of the project," he said.