rue Cazelais before
rue Cazelais after
The MTQ released its latest renderings on the future Turcot interchange for the first BAPE information session last night, adding what the Gazette called a few “green tweaks” to an increasingly controversial project. However, these “tweaks” may be best described a concerted campaign of green-washing so fanciful and disingenuous it strains credulity.
Take the images above. The renderings reveals that where turn-of-the-century triplexes now stand, the future rue Cazelais will contain a terrassed “park” with a lovely (although useless) footpath running alongside it. While this scene may seem surprisingly verdant considering this is a highway buffer, we are encouraged to believe that this greenery will grow as easily in real life as it is applied with Photoshop.
And the residents who live on Cazelais? Thanks to the MTQ’s support for housing programs like Accès-Logis (for which many residents will not be eligible, according to one housing worker present last night) new, affordable units will be built nearby. One presenter from the MTQ actually had the arrogance to suggest that these expropriations would be an improvement for residents, who in the future will no longer live so close to the highway. He neglected to mention residents on the south side, whose future neighbours will be moving at 100km/hr.
Or consider the MTQ’s token gesture for cyclists, a 5km trail running at the foot of the Falaise St. Jacques, connecting the new Turcot interchange to the Montreal-Ouest interchange, with absolutely nothing in between. Fortunately for the MTQ, no one pressed them on the subject.
But the most egregious green-washing (perhaps even lie) that reveals the present, near-hallucinatory state of MTQ officials was when Alain Dubé, the MTQ’s “Turcot Guru”, claimed that the project would be “carbon neutral”, thanks to the 300 000 square meters of land surrounding the highway. Did I hear that right? Do they actually think the slices of land between ramps will support mature plant growth while being steadily dusted with diesel fumes and salt dust? This comment reveals that the science and empiricism that supposedly guides this project is actually a thin veil for the colossal arrogance guiding the MTQ that apparently makes it impossible for their senior staff to back down. While credit is due to the junior staffer who jumped at the occasion to use this trendy term, the willingness of the MTQ to make such a baseless and absurd claim suggests that they will stoop to any level to sell this project.
Given the growing public discontent with the project, the new wave of PR is not surprising, however, this shameless green-washing takes it to another level. Fortunately, the 300+ attendees of the information session last night did not take kindly to the MTQ’s clumsy attempts to pull the wool pulled over their eyes. Critic blasted presenters on everything from housing to climate change, from specific ramps to the assumptions of continuous increasing car use underlying the project as a whole.
The experience last night confirms what I have long suspected: the only “tweaks” that will have any meaningful impact on the project will be the result of political pressure – either from the city or the province – not public consultations or perfunctory environmental hearings.