It was a beautiful day in St. Henri for a long walk and that’s exactly what 2000 or so residents and concerned citizens did yesterday, to show their displeasure with the MTQ’s proposed highway interchange. The signs they carried were as varied as the people in the crowd; “MTQ = Ministère des Transports” one reminded subtly, while others championed their public transport mode of choice.
The most exciting part was no doubt when marchers headed up the ramp of the Atwater exit of the 720, to stand beside the highway for some chants and speeches. On the whole, the organizers of the event ensured everything went smoothly and the police – both SPVM and the SQ (as were on a provincial highway) – kept everybody safe by blocking intersections from traffic.
Interestingly, while the police had the safety situation under control, the MTQ made an appearance nonetheless, albeit much more subtly. This solar-powered surveillance vehicle was parked on rue Selby and MTQ staffers were taking photos of the protest. One can only wonder why the MTQ would bother to monitor an event like this so closely; did they imagine violent protestors would arrive with Cats and wrecking balls hidden in their hoodies and try to sabotage the highway? It seems to me that if they are genuinely concerned about the growing opposition, simply revising their plans would be more in keeping with their mandate than surveillance.
One the whole, though, it was a beautiful day and my slight sunburn (first of the season) reminds me today that spring is here, along with a greater awareness of and opposition to the MTQ’s highway agenda.