Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Boulevard Henri-Bourassa | “It’s pretty revolutionary, what’s next”

A major change has been made to Henri-Bourassa Boulevard, in the north of Montreal, where the City plans to build in a few years a long lane reserved for buses and another for bicycles, from east to west. A year before the start of the work, the entrepreneurs are already afraid of many consequences.

From 2024, a significant part of the boulevard will be redeveloped between avenue Marcelin-Wilson and rue Lajeunesse. We will add a light rapid bus service (SRB), in the sense that the track will not be elevated like the Pie-IX SRB, as well as another branch of the Express Bike Network (REV).

Finally, the “sustainable mobility corridor” that the City wants to achieve by 2027 – still combining the SRB and the REV – will be 18 kilometers between Highway 13 and Boulevard Lacordaire. Three districts will therefore be crossed by this major project.

This will result in the removal of two lanes of traffic on each side of the boulevard, in addition to the removal of several parking spaces. So there are only two lanes left for the vehicle in each direction.

The idea of ​​a light SRB, also called “metrobus”, emerged in the previous municipal campaign, in October 2021. The City then combined the idea of ​​REV, these bicycle highways that are already multiplying on the island for several years. In Henri-Bourassa, pedestrian crossings will also be changed to facilitate walking, especially at intersections.

Small revolution?

“It’s quite revolutionary, what’s coming,” said the head of the movement of the executive committee, Sophie Mauzerolle. “The Henri-Bourassa axis is the busiest with more than 50,000 travelers per day. In the morning and evening, there is a long line in front of the buses. The need to act is already there,” continued the elected official.

At the Henri-Bourassa metro station, resident Jean-Guy Charette praised the initiative of the Plante administration.

Boulevard Henri-Bourassa | &Quot;It'S Pretty Revolutionary, What'S Next&Quot;

Ahuntsic, in the past, was almost a suburban town, but now, it is no longer that. We can do nothing but increase the number of public and active transportation options.

Jean-Guy Charette, a resident of the area

“The city is changing, and so are the times. We have no choice but to move in this direction,” added Mr. Charette, who maintains that soon, the use of individual cars “will no longer be viable.” “It’s basically a waste, when you know that a car spends 90% of the time parked,” he breathed.

François Lamontagne was more skeptical, but just needed to be convinced. “The world just has to accept it and make it worth it.” If people use the future SRB a lot, I think it will be a good project. But otherwise, two lanes of traffic are still cut off,” he said.

“Disguised expropriation”

In the commercial sector, however, the project is a bit underwhelming. For several weeks, the owner of the Salaison St-André butcher shop, André Savoie, has been circulating a petition asking the City to reconsider its intentions. “We are not anti-cycling, we are not against development and public transport, but we find it shameful to remove all the parking spaces. For us, it is a little like a disguised expropriation,” said Mr. Savoie.

Boulevard Henri-Bourassa | &Quot;It'S Pretty Revolutionary, What'S Next&Quot;

His son Steve Dupuis, who will soon take over the execution, supports him in his fight. “What we are asking for is public consultation. We have things to say and the business side seems to have escaped the City,” continued Mr. Savoie, who suggested, for example, that the lane reserved for buses be used during rush hour, in the morning and at night, but the remaining. Sometimes, parking is allowed there.

The project “will put more businesses on the street”, also fears Rémi Lafleur, a locksmith who has been established on Boulevard Henri-Bourassa for decades.

Boulevard Henri-Bourassa | &Quot;It'S Pretty Revolutionary, What'S Next&Quot;

No parking is unreasonable. This is a boulevard here, not a small local street. What do we do with our customers who come from Longueuil, Mont-Laurier, Saint-Jérôme?

Rémi Lafleur, entrepreneur in the sector

“Maybe we will close the counter here,” said the manager of Vitrerie St-André, François Rousseau, who is also against the City project. According to him, the merger of a REV and an SRB is too much “when we know that Henri-Bourassa is the only road that is currently doing well”.

Boulevard Henri-Bourassa | &Quot;It'S Pretty Revolutionary, What'S Next&Quot;

“You take Saint-Laurent, Berri, Sauvé, Fleury, Prieur: there is work everywhere in the area. Here, it is the only road that still flows and people come to us for that, among other things, ” continued Mr. Rousseau.

In the City, Sophie Mauzerolle assured that a dialogue will be held to “support these traders to change”. “We really take the time to visit each of them to focus on their service and delivery needs. There is a way to manage parking on perpendicular streets so that they are not affected on a daily basis,” he believes.

“When we did the REV Saint-Denis, we also heard this talk, while at the moment, the vacancy rate is not very low and it is the artery that makes the best release during the pandemic. It is not the predicted killing and we see added value,” concluded M.ME Mauzerolle.

Nation World News Desk
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