More buses in Plante’s plan
With two recent polls showing Valérie Plante running neck-andneck against incumbent Denis Coderre in the race to become the next mayor of Montreal, the future is starting to look potentially much brighter for the candidate who just four months ago was still unknown to two-thirds of Montrealers.
Plante met with the Montreal Gazette’s editorial board Monday to discuss how her party will tackle their central election platforms of improving mobility and getting more families to reside in Montreal, and also to shake the perception promoted by her opponent that the long-time opposition party is not quite ready for prime time.
IMPROVING MOBILITY, REDUCING TRAFFIC MAYHEM
“We see it everywhere that people are complaining about traffic jams, upset with not being able to get on the bus in the morning, they’re on the (métro) Orange Line and they have to see trains passing by because they’re jam-packed … so Montrealers definitely want to have mobility options,” Plante said.
Projet Montréal is proposing adding a Pink Line to the métro system in the long term to relieve congestion and aid under-served neighbourhoods.
In the short term, the party would add 300 public hybrid buses.
To relieve congestion caused by construction sites, it would create a “traffic squad” to resolve issues quickly that police often can’t, like drivers illegally parked in a bike or bus lane, or cars broken down in traffic.
Another team of experts, engineers, city workers and police would be formed to find solutions to increase fluidity and improve the co-ordination of construction sites, and ensure they don’t sit empty.
“If we want to keep families (to bolster the population and the economy) in the city we need to offer them a quality of life that fits their needs, so they feel safe, so their kids feel safe to go to school. And they have good schools, because that’s a big issue in Montreal as well.”
Projet Montréal is pledging to reimburse part of the “welcome tax” on new purchased homes for couples who have at least one child, up to $5,000, a rebate which can be used only once. By their calculations, it will allow an additional 5,000 families to stay on the island.
The new metropolitan status granted to Montreal will also allow greater control over social housing decisions, which they would use to coerce promoters to build more social and affordable housing.
“We have the chance here in Montreal to have this great diversity (of) economic, cultural, social backgrounds, the mixité, so I want to keep that and I think it’s through housing that it will work out,” Plante said.
ON TIME FOR A CHANGE IN LEADERSHIP
Plante acknowledged the city is doing better compared to four years ago as her opponent likes to stress, but said the benchmark makes for faint praise.
“A big question, though is … do we want to compare ourselves to one of the darkest periods in Montreal, with this period of corruption with (former mayors Michael) Applebaum and (Gérald) Tremblay? Is that where we are starting to compare? That is not how I want to envision the city at all. I want to look forward.
“The feeling that I have is that after this dark period, we needed a transition, fair enough. And now the transition is over, and what Montrealers want … is a vision. Where are we going for the future? What’s our vision for our city, not for the coming months, but for the next four, eight, 10, 20, 50 years?”
ON PROJET MONTRÉAL’S READINESS
Coderre’s team has been vaunting Montreal’s positive economic outlook and warning against voting for Projet Montréal because they lack the experience to manage the city. Plante responds that her party has been around for eight years longer than Coderre’s has, and it runs four of Montreal’s boroughs.
“They have been doing an amazing job, most of these boroughs are dealing with big cuts … in terms of the reallocation of financial resources done by my opponent. So, to me, we are ready to take charge.”
Contrary to allegations her party is pledging big-budget items, Plante said many of the party’s plans include financial involvement from other levels of government, and the party has done its math. Montreal will be less centralized under Projet, allowing boroughs to accommodate the needs of its residents, and will focus on more hiring diversity so Anglophones and others whose mother tongue is not French can get better service.
“I know that my opponent is playing the bogeyman right now, but that’s not true. He has been spending the money on things he thinks are right … and we are actually lower than what he has been spending, but it’s also different types of priorities. …
“Mobility is good for social and economic development … because we will open up new neighbourhoods. That’s good for the economy, that’s good for our smallbusiness streets, it’s also good for workers, to have mobility, we know it’s the key to have better jobs.”
Projet Montréal mayoral candidate Valérie Plante meets with the Montreal Gazette’s editorial board on Monday. All but unknown to the majority of voters just a few months ago, polls show Plante is running neck-and-neck with incumbent Denis Coderre a week ahead of the vote.