Where should the bike path go? Nobody in NDG seems to know
MONTREAL -- An already controversial NDG bike lane is causing more confusion, as city officials debate just how far it should go.
Over the weekend city workers painted extensions to the bicycle lanes on Terrebonne Street in Notre-Dame-de-Grace. Those lanes now extend from Girouard to Cavendish. It also means parking spots have been removed from that stretch, affecting St. Monica’s Elementary school and the Catholic church of the same name.
“I just wonder what our elderly people are going to do going forward when they want to go to church?” said Ken Saldanha, a warden at St. Monica’s Catholic Church. “I mean where are they going to park? This is a major issue.”
The Terrebonne bike path has been controversial for months. A pandemic measure aimed at providing mobility options for NDG residents, it has been lauded by cycle enthusiasts and criticized by residents of the street, especially many who park on Terrebonne. It recently became the flashpoint of another controversy, as the borough’s mayor and cycling advocate Sue Montgomery recently suspended director general Stephane Plante.
”I will not stand for this,” she wrote in a prepared statement, adding that Plante “unilaterally decided to ignore the democratically elected council’s clear instructions.”
Thursday the borough council voted to lift Plante’s suspension.
“Mayor Montgomery is accusing our borough director of lying to her and disrespecting council because he didn’t consult with downtown about extending the Terrebonne bike path west of Cavendish,” said Christian Arsenault, the councillor that represents the Loyola district.
Those instructions regard a presentation that Plante made to the central city council as to the dimensions of the bike path — namely, where it ends as it extends from Girouard. But there is a difference of interpretation as to what the borough council approved when it voted to install the paths on June 22.
A spokesperson from Montgomery’s office pointed to a page of the document that council voted on that clearly shows the cycle paths starting at Girouard Avenue and ending at Belmore Street. But other councillors — like Arsenault — point to maps in the document that show an end point at Cavendish Boulevard.
“Belmore was mentioned in one part of the council file,” Arsenault said. “But everything else said Cavendish, and everyone was under the understanding that we were going to Cavendish.”
The path was already reconfigured once from its original plan after the English Montreal School Board voiced concerns that removing street parking would make dropping off and picking up students at places like Willingdon Elementary and St. Monica’s difficult. Initially the path only went as far as Madison and it doesn’t run on the block Willingdon sits on. Additionally, it has a dotted line indicating buses have priority on the block St. Monica’s is on.
The bike path is staunchly supported by Montgomery, and it was conceived as a pilot project to last until November. But some are frustrated over what they describe as a lack of consultation, and Councillor Marvin Rotrand is already planning to introduce a motion on Sept. 8 to remove the paths outright.
“We admit the borough could have done a much better job of communicating our plans to residents,” Arsenault said. “And so people’s frustrations over the parts that have been done already, are well, justified.”