By Joel Goldenberg, The Suburban, January 29th, 2014

Inspired by Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre’s election declaration that connecting Cavendish Boulevard between Côte St. Luc and St. Laurent is a priority, Côte St. Luc council passed a resolution at last week’s meeting calling for the link’s construction to be started and completed.

And after many false starts on the issue, council members say they are optimistic about the prospects for a proposed indirect link that would connect Cavendish in St. Laurent to Royalmount in Town of Mount Royal, and then to a new street that would connect to Cavendish in Côte St. Luc.

The resolution points out that the link is part of Montreal’s 2008 transport plan, that its completion is Montreal’s responsibility, that studies were done between 2005 and 2007 resulting in an “optimal” link plan, that the link plan would have to be adjusted to conform with a planned Hippodrome development, “collective and active transport” in the area and other factors; that Montreal has to update its Cavendish link studies as part of the arrangement in the ceding of the Hippodrome land from Quebec to the city, that the capacity of the Décarie Expressway must be taken into consideration, and that $44 million must be allotted to the project as part of the Montreal agglomeration’s three-year capital budget – also required as part of Quebec’s Hippodrome deed transfer to Montreal.

The resolution calls for the link project to be “realized on the basis of an optimal scenario… having the concerned parties (affected municipalities and boroughs) collaborate…” and have the $44 million be “inscribed in the agglomeration’s 2014 capital expenditure program.” The resolution will be deposited at the next agglomeration meeting.

“At the agglomeration council, we are expecting the $44 million to be in the capital budget, because that’s the only condition on which we will vote for the budget,” said Councillor Dida Berku, who moved the resolution. “By June 2014, it is inscribed that we should have the updated plans. We’re very optimistic this project will finally move forward.”

Mayor Anthony Housefather says he is also relatively optimistic, even with the current PQ government and the possibility of a majority PQ government in the near future, if a recent poll is correct. Quebec would be funding a large portion of the link project, which could possibly cost more than $130 million. The amount from Quebec would be subject to negotiation.

“I’m not of the view there will be a majority PQ government, but I’m optimistic that we will be able to negotiate, even with this current government,” the mayor said. “It all depends on how much prioritization Montreal gives the link. The transport minister (Sylvain Gaudreault) is negotiating on transport priorities, and if this is a priority for the island as a whole, I think they’ll negotiate. There’s no reason not to. The question is, how much money will they put into it?”

The link “is closer to fruition than we’ve ever seen in decades of discussion,” says Councillor Glenn Nashen. “I hope Denis Coderre will stand behind his word and push forward for this thing. And with the Turcot interchange soon to be demolished, we’re heading for a decade of complete congestion in the entire west end, so this presents a very important link, not only for Côte St. Lucers, but for the west end to be able to go the north and west… it’s a vital link. The timing and political atmosphere, in terms of the suburbs, are right.”

Berku pointed out that the $44 million from the agglomeration will be generated from sales of properties in the planned Hippodrome development.