Côte-St-Luc mayor optimistic project will begin by 2019
Montreal was captivated by a rookie hockey player named Jean Béliveau, Queen Elizabeth had just begun her reign, and there was talk about linking the young towns of Côte-St-Luc and St-Laurent.
The extension of Cavendish Blvd. has been in the books for city planners for nearly 70 years, but now politicians say it’s a go, with shovels expected to break ground on the project within the next five years.
The project was a surprise inclusion on the island agglomeration’s new proposed regional urban plan, to be presented for public consultations this fall.
Cavendish Blvd. was the top item on a list of short-term projects planned in the document, made public on the city’s website on Monday.
Speaking to The Gazette on Wednesday, Côte-St-Luc Mayor Anthony Housefather, and Russell Copeman, the executive committee member in charge of planning, say they are optimistic the project will get underway by 2019.
Proposed and shelved many times, the project was announced in 2000 by then-Montreal mayor Pierre Bourque, and again prior to the demerger campaign in 2004 by former mayor Gérald Tremblay, as a lure to woo residents of Côte-St-Luc to remain with the megacity. It was shelved in 2007, but then promised again during the most recent election campaign by Denis Coderre.
Housefather said it’s different this time.
“For the first time, I believe there is an impetus at the provincial level, and with all the municipal players that are involved in this,” he said. “I understand the cynicism, but nobody by themselves has the power for this to happen.”
“People say we have been talking about this for years, but we haven’t seen this type of consensus on this project before with all the players (including Town of Mount Royal, St-Laurent, Côte-St-Luc, Hampstead and N.D.G.),” Copeman said.
Studies done in 2008 estimated the project would cost $140 million. The city plans to blow the dust off those studies and update them for this decade.
Housefather said the city already has $44 million earmarked for the project, set aside in Montreal’s sale of the Hippodrome horse racing track site to the province during the 1990s. The province would also need to chip in some significant funding for the project to be completed.
Quebec Transport Minister Robert Poëti said Wednesday the project is “interesting,” but not something his government would commit to for at least the next two years. He foresees a hold on new major roadwork announcements in order to help balance the province’s budget.
“(Cavendish) is something that we think is important,” Poëti said. “It is in the cards for us to do, and now we have to find the money for it.”
The extension would be a boon to Côte-St-Luc and St-Laurent because it would allow residents better access between the west end and the West Island, as an alternative to Highway 13 or the Décarie Expressway. It would also provide a straight line to the Vendôme métro station for public transit users.
Copeman, also the borough mayor of Côte-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, said it would help motorists, but will also provide the city with a much-needed access road for a planned development of between 3,500 and 5,000 housing units on the old Hippodrome site.
Other short-term projects planned in the document are the modernization of Notre-Dame St., the covering of the Ville-Marie Expressway, and transforming the Bonaventure Expressway into an urban boulevard.
The planning document has some goodies for West Island commuters, with plans to link Highways 20 and 40 west of St-Charles Blvd., for an urban boulevard to be created on land set aside for the extension of Highway 440, and the extension of Jacques-Bizard Blvd. through Pierrefonds and Dollard-des-Ormeaux. All those projects, however, are part of the long-term plans with no timetable attached.
The plan also called for several public transit projects like the extension of the métro’s Blue Line to Anjou, and the extension of the Orange Line to Laval. Copeman said he doesn’t know if the Orange Line extension would include a station at the Bois-Franc train station. That decision would have to be made by the province.