Mon­treal to hold pub­lic talks be­fore lim­it­ing cars on Mount Royal


Mon­treal’s iconic Mount Royal Park, the three-headed hill in the cen­tre of the city that of­fers panoramic views of the is­land, has be­come the lat­est flash­point in the bat­tle over the role of the car in Canada’s ur­ban cen­tres.

The city’s new ad­min­is­tra­tion, beloved and re­viled for its poli­cies per­ceived as anti-car, an­gered thou­sands of Mon­treal­ers when it an­nounced in Fe­bru­ary that ac­cess to the moun­tain by ve­hi­cles would be lim­ited un­der a new pi­lot project.

Op­po­si­tion leader Lionel Perez claimed vic­tory on Tues­day, how­ever, when the city said it would hold pub­lic con­sul­ta­tions be­fore launch­ing its con­tro­ver­sial plan.

Perez said in an in­ter­view he be­lieves Mayor Va­lerie Plante and her di­rec­tor of big parks, Luc Fer­ran­dez, have it out for the au­to­mo­bile.

“I think Mrs. Plante and Mr. Fer­ran­dez have clearly in­di­cated they are anti-car,” he said.

“I think there has been a cas­cad­ing ef­fect re­gard­ing this file, and that Fer­ran­dez didn’t prop­erly eval­u­ate the op­po­si­tion that would come from their pro­posal.”

More than 26,000 peo­ple signed an on­line pe­ti­tion de­mand­ing the city aban­don its pi­lot project and a group of cit­i­zens filed a re­quest to force the ad­min­is­tra­tion to hold pub­lic talks be­fore ac­cess to the moun­tain road is dra­mat­i­cally scaled back.

Plante and Fer­ran­dez want to pre­vent driv­ers from us­ing a road that cuts through the moun­tain be­cause, they ar­gue, the span was never meant to be used as a main artery.

They say their goal is to pro­tect the park, pre­serve its nat­u­ral beauty and re­turn the space to cit­i­zens.

In a re­cent Face­book post, Fer­ran­dez said, “com­pro­mis­ing a park’s beauty and the peace of those en­joy­ing it just to save a minute or two is not a right guar­an­teed by the Con­sti­tu­tion.”

Op­po­nents of the plan say the road of­fers cit­i­zens a beau­ti­ful, quiet and scenic drive over a trea­sured part of the is­land and that lim­it­ing cars would neg­a­tively af­fect ac­cess to two ceme­ter­ies and cause traf­fic jams on the streets around the park.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion says it will slice the road in half by spring­time and al­low cars to drive up each side of the hill to reach Beaver Lake and the ceme­ter­ies where some of the coun­try’s war dead are buried.

But driv­ers would be forced to make a U-turn and head back down with­out be­ing able to drive through the moun­tain.


Cars drive on Calmil­lien-Houde Way through Mount Royal park on Feb. 20.

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