Brenda O’Farrell: What is sustainable or responsible about plan for Pierrefonds West?
Source: The Gazette
If you are a commuter in the West Island — be it a driver or a bus user — you know that it is easier to travel along an east-west axis than it is to navigate a north-south route.
The infrastructure and transit corridors are more amenable to moving east-west: John Abbott to Pointe-Claire Village, Dorval Circle to Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, the Beaconsfield train station to downtown. It’s not quite the same thing if you want to make your way from Gouin Blvd. to Pointe-Claire Village or the Roxboro train station to the corner of Brunswick and St-Jean Blvds. And then there is the painstaking rush-hour drive that takes you from the exit ramp off westbound Highway 40 to points in western Pierrefonds, like the corner of Pierrefonds Blvd. and Château Pierrefonds Blvd.
This has been a long-standing problem.
The solutions are twofold. For public transit users, improvements to the network are required. And as we stand on the threshold of one of the biggest investments in West Island transit in 50 years, with plans to move ahead with the much anticipated Train de l’Ouest project, the improvements will facilitate flow on the east-west axis, especially in the southern sector of the West Island. Let there be no mistake, this is needed and welcomed. But it will not do a whole lot to improve travel in north-south directions. That solution is still a long way off.
For motorists, the arterial road map has not changed that much in the last few decades. The east-west flow of traffic has always had the two major highways. In fact, both have been improved enormously over the years. The traffic lights on Highway 20 have been removed, making the expressway safer and more efficient. And the Trans-Canada has been rebuilt and resurfaced most of its length through the West Island. But the north-south routes have stayed the same. The three main arteries — Sources, St-Jean and St-Charles — have seen traffic increases that reflect the continuing development of the northern section of the West Island. No new access route to handle the growing number of cars has been added.
In fact, in early November 1986 — that’s almost 29 years ago — days after a municipal election that saw then mayor of Pointe-Claire Malcolm Knox re-elected by acclamation, the pledge he made for his new administration was to push for a new north-south artery that would run between St-Jean and St-Charles Blvds., which would include a junction with Highway 40 — the so-called Jacques Bizard corridor.
Just about three decades later — with all the development that we have seen since then and now, with the latest plans to add 5,000 to 6,000 new housing units in western Pierrefonds — complete with a plan to protect a 180-hectare eco-territory that might or might not include development on land that is controlled by firms with extensive mob ties — the question remains: How can our road and transit infrastructure handle this?
This is not how great urban centres are built.