IM­PROV­ING MO­BIL­ITY

More buses in Plante’s plan

Montreal Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - RENÉ BRUEMMER

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.

RE­TAIN­ING FAM­I­LIES

“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.”

JOHN MA­HONEY

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.

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