The snow has mostly melted and the temperature has climbed above the freezing mark — what to do? Protest, of course.
Tomorrow, east end residents opposed to the Notre Dame highway project will take to the streets in a “grand tintamarre” that aims to catch the attention of the muncipal and provincial officials who want to transform the eastern portion of Notre Dame Street into an expressway. They’ve already earned the support of 24 well-known academics, politicians and activists, including architect Phillys Lambert and Hochelaga MNA Louise Harel, who signed a declaration in support of public transit projects instead of the Notre Dame expansion.
Park Avenue’s Urban Ecology Centre, which was born in the fight against the Cité Concordia project that would have razed most of the McGill Ghetto, has also come out against the Notre Dame scheme. Yesterday, it issued a statement outlining its concerns:
Un tel aménagement contribuera à accroître significativement la capacité du réseau routier montréalais et amènera 50 000 nouveaux véhicules vers le centre‐ville. Il s’agit d’une aberration inconcevable en regard de nos connaissances sur les effets néfastes d’une forte circulation motorisée (pollution de l’air, émissions de gaz à effet de serre, impacts sur la santé de la population riveraine des grandes artères, risques dʹaccidents dans les quartiers qui doivent absorber le surplus de circulation, etc.). En outre, toutes les études démontrent que les effets positifs recherchés par une augmentation de la capacité routière, principalement la réduction de la congestion, ne sont que de très courte durée puisqu’ils sont annulés, en quelques années, par le trafic induit par l’offre accrue.
The impact of increased traffic and pollution seem to be the highway project’s greatest drawbacks, but what is truly frustrating about the plan is that it feels like a half-baked compromise between provincial transport officials, who wanted a full-fledged expressway, and city officials, who wanted an “urban boulevard” that would be more integrated into east end neighbourhoods. It seems likely that, even with an increase of capacity, the new highway will quickly become congested, especially as the port—to which Notre-Dame is the main link—aims to increase its cargo traffic. What will happen then?
Tomorrow’s march will start at 1:30pm outside Papineau metro before heading down Ste. Catherine Street to Morgan Park and the Maisonneuve Market.