Demonstration for an alternate Turcot: a photo essay

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.


  1. Sometimes people forget that organizations are made up of people. The MTQ staffers taking photos might very well be against the project too and wanted to document evidence of people protesting precisely to force the MTQ’s hand into more review of the project. It doesn’t have the be anything sinister.

  2. I agree with Guillaume. They may well be nothing more than institutional archivists, or, as Guillaume posits, the movement may have some friends on the “inside”. Maybe they’re even planning a “we heard you!” press release!

  3. WAY more people voted in favour of the new highway by driving by on it during the time of the protest. All the news outlets reported a few hundred protesters, so I don’t know where you got 2000, unless you counted everyone 10 times.

  4. “One can only wonder why the MTQ would bother to monitor an event like this so closely”

    Well, when “2000” protesters march up a ramp onto property of an organization whose responsibility it is to ensure safety on said property, and this property happens to be a highway where cars are zooming by at 100 km/h, and information on when the protest ends so that the exit ramp can be reopened needs to be communicated to the MTQ employees who have closed the exit (or maybe the two people pictured are themselves the ones closed the exit), then it seems reasonable to me that you’d send a couple of employees to monitor what’s going on.

    The MTQ has fixed cameras on highways all over the island to monitor traffic, accidents and ensure public safety. If a protest is planned where protesters march up an exit ramp, then the MTQ requires information on the situation. It would only take a few morons to run up the ramp and cause a dangerous situation for everyone.

    To think that either a) The MTQ is now in the business of spying on protesters or b) the two employees in the truck are somehow documenting the protest and are against the project shows a lack of understanding of how our institutions (and employees within them) function. Ultimately, it’s a self absorbed view. Either they’re “WITH me” or they’re “AGAINST me”. It doesn’t occur to some people to think that public employees have a duty to serve the entire public. Everyone has the right to protest but a driver on a highway has the right to not have a person running onto the highway and putting lives in danger. Two guys in a truck ensuring a nice medium between these two rights is frankly, quite innocuous and doesn’t deserve attention on a blog committed to discussing urban issues.

  5. Since this is the provincial government we’re talking about, it might have helped somewhat if the Québec ridings around the échangeur weren’t totally a fiefdom of the Automobile Party of Québec and might actually turn if enough people got upset!

    Weil, Kathleen (P.L.Q./Q.L.P.) 11 475 (67,97%) majorité 9 045
    McQueen, Peter (P.V.Q./G.P.Q.) 2 430 (14,39 %)
    Martel, Fabrice (P.Q.) 2 307 (13,66 %)
    Conway, Matthew (A.D.Q./É.M.D.) 483 (2,86 %)
    Sullivan, Linda (P.M.L.Q.) 124 (0,73 %)
    Rovins, David Sommer (S.D.) 64 (0,38 %)

    70%! (Let’s include the ADQ crew with the pro-auto faction) Vroooom.

  6. It was a really cool march. One of the best. Numbers don’t mean that much whether there was 200 or 2000 or whether 20,000 or 100,000 cars drove by because the drivers are all anonymous and not doing anything unusual at all. “cars driving on freeway” just isn’t news. But “protesters marching up freeway ramp” will probably get the front page every time. But an interesting idea comes out of that comment – how can drivers demonstrate their support of the Turcot Plan? Tough one. Unless they turn their engines off, they are going to be creating noise and air pollution no matter where they congregate.

  7. By the way, great pictures, Marc! I was with the group that started at 780 so it is good to see the part I missed.

  8. Lovely, colourful, peaceful demonstration bringing together many diferent types of people. And a good turnout for the consultaitons last night as well.

    Newurbanshapes, the PQ also had its béton moments, in particular in support of suburban sprawl on the South Shore. Monique Simard was actually supporting a new highway (aieeee!) You’ll note no Québec solidaire, as the party decided to field no candidate in NDG in the riding where the Green Party had its best outcome in the previous elections.

  9. Do I think a PQ-controlled MTQ would handle this project better? Sure I do. But I’m just saying that the monolithic anglo vote for the PLQ in the neighborhood seems to take a bit of bargaining power away from Turcot opponents. Hint hint

    But really, vote Marxist-Leninist if you want. Though if I recall correctly Marx wanted to reduce the difference of density between city and country….

  10. What a bizarre comment. I was simply pointing out that the PQ also had its pro-sprawl moments.

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