Southwest Montreal citizen consultation

A proposed redesign of Lionel-Groulx metro station will create space for an additional 200 buses per day expected by city transit planners to pass through Southwest Montreal from the soon-to-be-revamped Turcot interchange and Ville-Marie expressway.

“Metro Lionel-Groulx is already at capacity,” said one STM (Société de transport de Montréal) representative at last Thursday night’s citizen consultation sponsored by the Urban Ecology Centre of Montreal and Mobilization Turcot, a group mobilizing Southwest residents around a more sustainable plan for the aging highway’s future.

The consultation-turned-workshop was organized by various Southwest Montreal community groups such as Solidarité St-Henri and the Little Burgundy Coalition, these being the two communities that will be most affected by this project.

A presentation by the STM about its plan to revamp the transit hub that Lionel-Groulx metro station has become, gave those gathered at CEDA, a mere two blocks from the metro station in question, an idea of what to expect later this year when construction begins.

The official plan is to completely encircle the metro station and its immediate environs with buses, from Rue St-Jacques along Ave. Atwater to Rue Delisle and Ave. Greene, where there’s a barricade on the south side separating the street from bike lanes and green space, used frequently by many sunbathers, dog walkers, soccer players and McGill University students living nearby at Solin Hall residence.

According to the STM, they want to connect Greene, re-routing the bike path and lining buses along it as a pick-up and drop-off point for passengers using the metro. Concerns raised by residents of the area, including many senior citizens living at the corner of Delisle and Greene, are that there happens to be big, beautiful trees right between the two points the STM wants to connect and make a thoroughfare.

What will happen to these trees? Will they be cut down? Obviously you cannot re-route a tree like you can a bike path. Concerns were also raised about a community garden which is along Delisle and Greene used by many residents in St-Henri.

Gathered around tables, citizens were given a chance to point out problems they see being created by this metro station redesign. St-Henri resident Freda Guttman asked about the fate of the community garden, wanting to know what would be done to ensure that exhaust fumes and pollution wouldn’t effect the crops being grown there.

The STM ensures buses won’t be left idling and they produced a photograph of a wall of vines, which are supposed to separate parked buses on the street from the St-Henri garden. This did nothing to calm Guttman’s fears.

Others, like McGill University urban planning student Steve Charters, mentioned the lack of crosswalks along Atwater and, more specifically, the intersection at St-Jacques, which was described as a “pedestrian nightmare.” Charters spends a lot of time cycling in St-Henri and pointed out how much more difficult it will be to navigate the area around Lionel-Groulx metro station. 

Southwest Montreal borough councillor Veronique Fournier was also on-hand to address the issues raised at the citizen consultation. Fournier answered questions in relation to the metro station redesign and Southwest Montreal’s urban plan in general, considering the area will become more congested with traffic as the result of the upcoming Turcot project.

Fournier was adamant in telling everyone present that the responsibility lays with the MTQ, Quebec’s transportation ministry, to work with the Southwest borough and make sure they’re able to deal with any transportation-related issues that may arise in the future.

Long-time Saint-Henri resident Derek Robertson asked the STM representatives present what the entire metro redesign will cost. The answer he received: “Three million dollars in total.” However, Robertson, who has worked in construction, is skeptical about the cost and the entire redesign process.

“The STM is saying it’s only going to cost three million when I know for a fact it will cost more than that,” Robertson said. “At the apex of Turcot reconstruction, there’ll be many more than 200 buses coming in. We’ll be talking about five-six-seven hundred buses using Lionel-Groulx. That’s the reality.”

Now, It seems Saint-Henri and Little Burgundy have their own bus corridor fiasco to deal with reminiscent of Griffintown’s Dalhousie bus corridor, which is expected to divert buses along Rue Dalhousie traveling from the South Shore on the Bonaventure expressway to downtown’s central terminus.  

For more information on the Dalhousie bus corridor, check the website of the Sustainable Committee for the Redevelopment of Griffintown, or for information on the MTQ’s Turcot Project, please visit Mobilization Turcot.

Adam Bemma is a journalist, humanitarian, and media consultant based in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

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