Street stays open, park on hold
By Joel Ceausu
Like many residents of the Triangle development, Marie-Eve Bérubé thought she was moving into what was hyped as a tranquil, eco- and pedestrian-friendly sector, and a way to keep Montrealers in the city.
The launch of a massive condominium project in the middle of one of the city’s busiest sectors came with assurances of green spaces and traffic calming measures, helping to boost interest and sales.
Instead, the Paré-street resident and her neighbours look out on speeding through-traffic and car lots where the large park they were promised was supposed to be. “I bought my condo based on promises of a green space and safe streets,” she told Côte des Neiges-Notre Dame de Grâce borough council last month, along with almost 100 people who crowded the meeting to denounce the slow pace of action.
The borough’s original intention to close Victoria Avenue to traffic north of Jean Talon has fallen by the wayside, in favour of narrowing the street and other measures.
That’s not for a lack of trying, said Borough Mayor Russell Copeman.
“It’s the centre city that is strongly against closing it, and for reasons of access to the area by emergency services.”
Cars heading north from Côte des Neiges often use Victoria to access de la Savane and weave through Mount Royal to the 40 east, or head west on Paré to access the Décarie expressway. The volume and speed need to be addressed says Bérubé, as does the park that never came, thanks to rising property values and the price tag of expropriating two car dealerships.
More than a quarter of the Triangle’s 4,000 condo units have already been built, and still Bérubé said that there is no appropriate green space to speak of.
“We wanted a safe, clean, ecological neighborhood,” she said, “and there are more condos being built, more people coming, more traffic and more danger for children. Imagine that I get into my car at 3 p.m. and I am already stuck in traffic.”
She suggested that the city close off the street to all but emergency vehicles, and complained that even if the road is narrowed it will still see loads of cars heading through there to access Décarie.
“No one wants a throughway there,” says Copeman, “no one.”
Borough director Stéphane Plante assured residents that going forward all new plans being considered are opposed to that. “Everything we are looking at will make it more difficult to use Victoria to get to Paré. It will take longer to pass by your neighborhood than to continue on Jean Talon, that’s the concept we are working on.”
Bérubé says partially based on promises by the city, “People took a decision to come live here, and you are putting us in peril.”
As for the park, Copeman pegged the price of the original plan at “tens of millions of dollars” and said that the borough is “looking at alternatives whose objective is to remain as loyal as possible to the original plan, to give people their green space while respecting as much as possible the original intent.”
Over the next three years, Montreal is planning to spend $34.9 million on infrastructure in the sector, which it recently promoted as “an urban green space, an oasis of fresh air and tranquility. Accessible by public transportation and close to several major Montreal institutions, this area will provide an ideal living environment for many families and young professionals.”
Those already living there however, lament that the principal visions for traffic and green space are still in limbo. One owner who would not give her name said she felt “deceived. It’s always the same story, the city and the builders are together. We believe them but then all we hear is ‘no.’ The city was so excited to see someone build something they would do anything.”
Côte des Neiges councillor Magda Popeanu expressed sympathy for residents. “It’s unbelievable and on the level of improvisation. When we promise something, why make money on the backs of people? Because there are promoters who made a lot of money, who sold a lot of condos based on the promises of the city.”
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