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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

New City Gas Co. building threatened by bus corridor proposal/Bonaventure redevelopment

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The plan to tear down the Bonaventure Expressway in favour of an “urban boulevard” (with four lanes going both ways), complete with new office buildings and hotels with street-level storefronts has been on the table for few years and now looks as if it will be a reality sooner than later.  However, recently added to the plan is the idea of a bus corridor to be used by the 1 400 public transit buses that cross the Champlain Bridge every day travelling between Montreal and the South Shore.  The new bus corridor, which will shave only a few minutes off the current commute will start at the existing bus terminus on rue de la Cathedrale and travel down Dalhousie which will be extended to reach the Bonaventure Expressway.  The Gazette has a map of the plan, along with the plan for Phase 1 of the Bonaventure project here.

One of the most costly and controversial parts of the project is the need to drill a tunnel through the elevated train tracks for Dalhousie to be extended. Experts are concerned however, that the 160 year old New City Gas Co. building will not be able to withstand the vibrations from the drilling along with the thousands of buses that will pass by it daily if the corridor is built as planned.  The corridor, which will cost somewhere around $65 million dollars is being heavily criticised by members of the Comité pour le sain redéveloppement de Griffintown* who, in a press release, questioned the need for the corridor suggesting alternate routes that wouldn’t threaten heritage buildings, and ultimately be less costly:

During the roadwork period, the most logical detour for the estimated 1 400 daily buses (200 buses per hour at rush hour) would be to turn left on Wellington  street and drive up Peel Street, (two wide streets with multiple lanes).  Why was this option rejected? Because, we’re told, Montreal mayor Gérald Tremblay wishes to reserve Peel Street for the hypothetical and much publicized tramway line, although it isn’t budgeted for in the near future by the AMT.

And why shouldn’t the permanent route be a reserved bus lane on each of the two new four-lane urban boulevards? So buses don’t slow down car circulation, says the AMT. Yes, five traffic lights along the new section are bound to slow down  traffic at rush hour. So why not simply use the reserved lane in the opposite direction at rush hour?

Luckily, as The Gazette reported, the plan will be going to public consultations through the Office de consultation publique de Montréal, however, their website as of yet says nothing of it.

*Full disclosure: The CSRG is an organisation of which I am a member.



  1. It all makes me wonder if there is any kind of a committee that is actually studying alternative transportation in the city? Right now it seems like the executive committee just sits around kissing each other’s arses while each new developer pitches his latest get rich quick scheme.Spending 65 million because the mayor wants to reserve Peel street? It just gets harder and harder to not believe these people are in some way retarded.

  2. Argh! I love that building! Noooooooooo!

    Neath: I have to agree… What is it about politics that makes men just so damned… lobotomized?!

  3. Chris and all, is it feasable to restore and find a use for that beautiful ancient industrial building? It is wonderful. I imagine it as a venue and anchor for the neighbourhood very unlike the silly “entertainment” and “lifestyle” crap the former promoter was pushing.

    Of course, back from Amsterdam, I want trams everywhere, but the lines won’t be put down tomorrow.

  4. Neath, Fray:

    Remember the whole renaming Parc ave. thing? That’s how the Tremblay dictatorship operates – with no input from the people.

  5. Is this not one of the buildings that was to be preserved under the Devimco plans? So the city itself want to threaten it now? Very confusing.

  6. It was supposed to be incorporated into the plans for the Devimco project and renovated at great expense. They were going to put a grocery store in it, a Whole Foods I had heard.

  7. I’m interested in going to this public consultation; how much public consultation actually happens? I don’t wish to come off as defeatist, but in a city such as ours, it seems highly unlikely anyone without a plan and money to back it will be heard by the powers at be.

    I’ve become involved with the Empress Theatre project and have several close friends for whom the discussion of Montreal at a conceptual and aesthetic level is rewarding experience. Unfortunately, when the inevitable question of ‘what is to be done’ with regards to Montreal’s numerous and embarrassing shortfalls, comes up, I’m often left empty handed. The issue of the Turcot Interchange has left one of them in a near panic (we agree the current interchange is a cultural landmark that ought to be re-engineered as a park that also acts as the primary non-vehicular transit point between NDG and St. Henri) as neither of us can come up with concrete solutions and methods to reach the parties involved.

    In the end, I’m not convinced it comes down to votes – the last few municipal elections have had record low participation rates (and I still find people incredulous to learn the mayor is elected) – and it is unlikely to change anytime soon, another example of the Montreal Malaise.

    What I’d like to see are counter-proposals, counter-offers – how many people, working on a part-time and volunteer basis, would it take to prepare a counter-vision of what Griffintown should be? Or how this traffic route is completely impractical – not threatening to an old building, but statistically demonstrable as generating far higher gridlock. If we can recognize the current municipal and provincial governments as being wholly incapable of sound judgment when it comes to urban planning and design, then we need to publicize and promote the better vision. Moreover, the economics of aesthetics and the finance of smart urbanism needs to be the chief argument – of all the recent redevelopment schemes discussed in this blog, none of them will do any good for our economy. Almost always it seems the alternative solutions and proposals would be far more beneficial in the long run, and it so happens these solutions are very often the ones which have succeeded in the past.

    I’d like to know what it cost to save and how much economic stimulation could be generated by finding a new use for this building.

  8. Today I stepped on some horse manure on Ste. Catherine street. More than a few analogies come to mind, heh.

  9. I still can’t believe Mayor Tremblay… what an idiot.

    Marc: you said it best, he keeps making executive decisions with ZERO input from Montrealers.

    And moreso, he makes bad decisions that cause taxpayers to pump in more money for his “friends” in development/ construction.

    Honestly though, he was elected by us, so if we have a problem with him, we have only ourselves to blame…

  10. To all the Nay-sayers, At least the Devimco Griffintown project was saving this beautifull building.

  11. BruB: With all due respect, to what cost?

  12. Please Bedr A, tell us at what cost??

    People vote a mayor in to take decisions, he does so (that is if he did for this case) and you guys keep complaining.

    Please get down your let’s-make-everyone-happy-and-nothing-will-be-ever-done horses and take a deep breath.

    The possibility that something happens to this building is remote, at best. Should we stop all developpement in montreal because of construction side-effects???

    Most of you complain at public transport for being not good enough, but here they try to speed up this mean of transport and its ticking you off because those suburban bastards will gain a few minutes a day (multiplied by thousands by 200+ days) and you will not benefit from it. Too bad NIMBYs.

    And this article reeks of bias btw.

  13. It seems like the people in charge of urban development and transportation are clueless. If we are taking down the Bonaventure expressway and replacing it by a broad urban boulevard, why on earth are we not going to use the new boulevard for buses? Make them 5 lanes in each direction and reserve a lane in each direction for buses. Why we need to create a phantom bus route is beyond me, let alone a waste of money.

  14. BTW… time the lights to sync up on the urban boulevard and delays won’t be bad.

  15. Samir: were you expecting someone who is a member of an organisation whose existence is devoted to saving the built heritage of Griffintown (as indicated at the bottom of the article) to come out in favour of a plan that is going to, in my opinion, needlessly waste a great deal of money and possibly condemn one of the oldest industrial buildings in the city.

    Everything ever written has reflected the bias of its writer from newspapers, magazine articles, blog posts, the comments of those blog posts, and anything in between. I’m really not sure what exactly you wanted me to write instead but whatever alternate point of view you may have is more than welcome in the comments.

  16. they never mentioned that the building would be actually demolished..
    i must say, buses need their own lane! i live in brossard, i take the bus every single day to get to work. and having something like that would be a lot better for a lot of people.
    (although it would be a million times better if they built a monorail or something between bonaventure and brossard. (they keep talking about it, but nothing ever happens))

  17. Thanks to all of you for your support and to having a dialog . to Shaun i would add that you would be most welcome to move into Montreal, save the commute and all the inherent pollution etc. i am sure that there is a olace for you in Griffintown if you so desire.


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