OCPM Urban Master Plan, Green Coalition, 2004

Green Coalition Brief
Re: The Master Plan of the City of Montreal, presented to the
Office de consultation publique de Montréal, in June 2004
This brief is to be considered as
Addendum 2.
to the brief presented in June 2003 entitled:
Progress on the dossier since June 2003
Last chance to save the natural spaces! Even more urgent now – in 2004
Natural Spaces Policy in the new Master Plan: Objectives excellent
Master Plan fails to secure Natural Spaces
Add specifics, precision to Natural Spaces Policy
Keep rampant development out of écoterritoires
Set up “Natural Environment Protection and Enhancement Fund” now
Green Coalition seeks help for green spaces from superior governments:
municipal politicians and others are invited to do the same
agricultural zone/ human scale communities/ re-greening/ setbacks/ church lands
Virage Vert for Montreal Transportation
Virage Vert : In 2002, Nature-Parks were threatened by new roads
Virage Vert: City officials say natural spaces are now safe from new road building
Glitches in the “Virage Vert”! New plans shock Green Coalition
Extension of Pierrefonds Boulevard through L’Anse-à-l’Orme Écoterritoire to join
Morgan Boulevard in Baie d’Urfé is unacceptable
Doney Spur Light Rail Line should be the backbone of public transit in West Island
Surprise Proposal to roll buses on Doney Spur! No cost/benefit studies, no environmental
impact studies in Master Plan to warrant this sudden change in vocation for Doney Spur.
railbanking/ TODs yes/ in écoterritoires no/ rethink new station/ de Salaberry servitude
The Green Coalition is a non-profit association of grass-roots volunteers. Its membergroups
and individual members are dedicated to the conservation, protection and
restoration of the environment. Members are actively involved in many issues such as,
saving the Island’s last green spaces, preventing road building through established
Nature-Parks and other green spaces, boosting public transit strategies; promoting
alternatives to pesticides, pressing for the clean up waste-water runoff and polluted
creeks, and for responsible waste reduction and management. In short, the Green
Coalition is working vigorously in Montreal, helping to shape a sustainable development
city. The stated “general objective of the new Master Plan is to ensure that Montréal’s
planning initiatives will be based on sustainable development.” (Mayor Gérald
Tremblay’s letter to Montrealers) The Green Coalition is pleased to participate, offering
opinion, observations and recommendations as the urban plan evolves.
This brief is presented by Mr. David Fletcher and Mrs. Sylvia Oljemark. Both are porteparole
of the Green Coalition. Mr. Fletcher is Vice-President; Mrs. Oljemark is a member
of the Board of Directors and served as the first President of the Green Coalition.
Scope of this brief
In June 2003, one year ago, the Green Coalition presented a brief on Urban Planning for
Montreal, giving a number of recommendations on two essential components of
sustainable development planning – Natural Green Spaces and Transport. In April 2004,
the Green Coalition presented a brief on the draft Policy for the Protection and
Enhancement of Natural Spaces. Now, this new brief on the Master Plan will review the
recommendations made in the two earlier documents, the city’s responses and the
resulting changes the city has made in planning orientations over the past year. This brief
will also stress specific points where rethinking is needed and outline further
improvements that are proposed by the Green Coalition. In addition, recommendations
and observations on a variety of other subjects are also offered.
Progress on the dossier since June 2003
In its June 2003 brief, the Green Coalition urged the City of Montreal not to repeat the
error of the Montreal Urban Community. The MUC’s first Master Plan, 1987, had no
Green Space Plan. Exceptional grass-roots efforts were pivotal in putting in place the
MUC’s $200 million Green Space Program in 1989. Now, in response to citizens’
appeals at news conferences, at city hall question periods, and during special events, the
City of Montreal is poised to adopt its Policy for the Protection and Enhancement of
Natural Spaces. In November 2003, the Green Coalition mobilized citizens to city hall,
calling for green space dollars in the budget, reminding the administration that if the last
natural ecosystems are lost, Montreal can never qualify on the world stage as a
Sustainable Development City. Thirty-six million dollars over three years was set aside in
the December Budget for green space acquisition.
Last chance to save the natural spaces! Even more urgent now – in 2004
It is twelve long years since the MUC program collapsed – one-half its budget, $100
million, was left unspent. One thousand hectares of natural lands have been lost to
development since the late 1980s. With the boom in the housing market, the losses
continue. Montreal’s last remaining natural green spaces (1600 hectares) are owned by
developers and are zoned for development. Development pressures are so severe that
these unprotected green spaces are at risk of disappearing completely in the near future.
At the hearings on the city’s new Policy for the Protection of Natural Spaces in April, the
grass-roots applauded this courageous step being taken by the city when fiscal constraints
are so severe. Citizens cheered the ambitious scope of the plan: above all, they hailed the
Policy as the last chance to save Montreal’s natural spaces. But, participants at the
hearings also expressed fears that the limited funds for green space acquisition ($36
million) are inadequate and that encroachment through building will despoil much of the
remaining green spaces. Mayor Tremblay has stated publicly that investments of between
$100 and $200 million are needed.
Natural Spaces Policy in the new Master Plan: Objectives excellent
The objectives outlined in the new Natural Spaces Policy are encompassed in the Master
Plan. These objectives are excellent. The city has pledged to boost protected natural areas
from 3.3% to 8% of Montreal’s territory. Achieving the 8% target would satisfy both
Quebec and International norms and serve to validate the City of Montreal’s sustainable
development aspirations. Ten “Écoterritoires” across the city, offering a rich biodiversity
of flora and fauna, are delineated for protection. These ten eco-zones correspond in every
respect with sites recommended in the Green Coalition’s June 2003 brief – all respects
except one – the Green Coalition still insists that Meadowbrook be included as an
eleventh écoterritoire for protection in the policy.
Master Plan fails to secure Natural Spaces
The new Master Plan fails to embody or entrench any legal and binding mechanisms,
such as easements, servitudes, bylaws and zoning to protect any of the écoterritoires.
Even core-zone properties within the écoterritoires deemed to be of outstanding
ecological value and sensitivity continue to be zoned for residential or other development
in the Master Plan. eg. Angell Woods and the southern unprotected third of Anse-àl’Orme
Forest (also known as Woods #3), both of inestimable ecological value and both
located in the écoterritoire called “le corridor écoforestier de la Rivière-à-l’Orme” are to
be prey for developers’ bulldozers according to the Master Plan. (Land Use Designation
map 3.1.1) Mr. Stephen Lloyd of APAW, Association for the Protection of Angell
Woods, a member-group of the Coalition, wrote in his natural spaces brief: « …. des
normes élaborées par la Politique relativement à la conservation des espaces naturels
seront inclues dans le plan d’urbanisme à titre « d’objectifs » seulement. La Politique
manque donc de mordant. »
Add specifics, precision to Natural Spaces Policy
Montrealers, justifiably, expect that their cherished natural spaces will be protected in
perpetuity and that they will enjoy free access to them. The Policy and the Master Plan
both fail to spell out how Montrealers’ expectations can be met; both fail to identify any
specific sites for conservation. Clarity is needed in the Policy on these essentials. Also, to
provide coherence, to focus energies and stimulate participation in the process, this policy
must have a Timetable, provide a Progress Report and set reasoned Priorities.
Keep rampant development out of écoterritoires
The limited funds for the purchase of Montreal’s last green spaces has fueled fears that
this new policy will be weighted in favour of the interests of real estate development and
real estate developers. Commonly, municipal administrations regard “vacant” land as a
resource to be exploited for urban development, for increased tax revenues. Expanded
populations then require more services, more infrastructure, in turn engendering more
development for yet more revenue – an inexorable development spiral! Close to 90% of
Montreal’s territory has already been built over. The Green Coalition urges that, for truly
sustainable practice, this building spiral be stopped outside the last natural ecosystems
and that these lands of rich irreplaceable biodiversity be spared any more incursions.
Set up “Natural Environment Protection and Enhancement Fund” now
The Draft Natural Spaces Policy vaguely mentions the possibility of setting up a “Natural
Environment Protection and Enhancement Fund”. The City is urged to exercise a
leadership role now to create the fund, and to put its considerable machinery to work to
secure more funds from private, corporate and public sources – funds for green space
acquisition. Further, every mechanism to leverage and double up funds must be exploited
to the maximum. Citizens are participating. APAW, the Association for the Protection of
Angell Woods and the Nature Conservancy of Canada have teamed up to create a fund to
purchase Angell Woods.
Green Coalition seeks help for green spaces from superior governments:
municipal politicians and others are invited to do the same
In 1991, the MUC Green Space Program collapsed – a Moratorium halted all green space
spending until now. That Program was scrapped because of the shameful lack of financial
support from the superior governments – at the same time that downloading was draining
city coffers! Note that the Federal Government has made no contribution to green space
spending in Montreal – ever. Between 1979 and 1992, the MUC invested close to $200
million in the acquisition and management of its Nature-Parks. The total sum contributed
by the Quebec Government since 1979 is $12.5 million – in two installments back in 1979
and 1981.
Seek help of superior governments, cont’d
Pay only once to acquire Natural Spaces!
The Green Coalition is seeking one-time contributions of dedicated funds of at least $36
million each from the Federal Government and from the Quebec Government to match or
exceed the contribution of the City of Montreal to be used for green space acquisition
according to the City’s new Natural Spaces Policy. Note that unlike many needs that are
constant demands on the public purse, a single investment can help Montreal prevent the
terminal loss of its natural ecosystems. The Coalition insists that financial provisions for
saving Montreal’s green spaces are firmly placed high on the priority list as the “New
Deal” between Ottawa, Quebec and our city, Montreal, evolves!
Greenfields for Brownfields: Swapping to save Natural Spaces:
A Green Coalition Landbanking Proposal
A landbank of surplus Federal and Provincial properties can be created to be exchanged
for the natural spaces owned by developers, thus conserving the ecologically valuable
sites. Many surplus properties are contaminated lands, or brownfields that, once
rehabilitated through “The National Brownfield Redevelopment Strategy” or Quebec’s
Revi-sols Program, offer exceptional opportunities for redevelopment. Surplus lands,
contaminated or not, serve this objective equally well.
Green servitudes: The Green Coalition also seeks that servitudes, once set aside for
road building and no longer needed, be turned into green servitudes in perpetuity as
natural corridors for flora and fauna and to augment Nature-Parks.
Nature-Park statutes need boosting
Currently, portions of Nature-Parks, if not whole parks, can be leased, sold or rezoned.
Only one (1) of the nine (9) nature-parks, Parc-nature du Bois-de-Saraguay has a special
level of protection under the aegis of the Ministère des affaires culturelles as an
Arrondissement naturel. All the Nature-Parks and the natural areas that will be protected
by the new Policy must have at least equivalent statutes to the Bois-de-Saraguay, where
no trees may be cut.
Guarantees, Guarantors for Natural Spaces Policy
The Green Coalition seeks guarantees that the Natural Spaces Policy would survive a
municipal administration change and that the superior levels of government stand as
guarantors so that the program would continue. The Coalition urges the City to help
secure such guarantees from the superior governments and to formally entrench these
guarantees in the Policy for the Protection of Natural Spaces.
The “Permanent Agricultural Zone”
Ms Alison Hackney, a Green Coalition member who owns a farm in Senneville, offers
the following observations about the “Permanent Agricultural Zone”:
“It is encouraging to read of the City of Montreal’s stated intention to maintain the
“Permanent Agricultural Zone”, however, it is worrisome that in the very next line of
section 11.4 of the Plan, it is recognized that land could be excluded from the farm zone.
It is difficult not to be cynical, as Québec’s Law to Protect Agricultural Land was
supposed to maintain the “Permanent Agricultural Zone”, and farmland has decreased
yearly since the adoption of the Law. How will the City do better? The City planners
should integrate agricultural activities with the plans for natural green space and public
transit and bicycle routes. These are very compatible, as the farms that are presently part
of the urban landscape are very attractive and harmonious and attract retail customers onsite.
The Politique de protection et de mise en valeur des milieux naturels recognizes the
importance of buffer zones to protect critical natural sites. Farms could fill this role at
the same time as generating economic activity.”
(Historical note:) In 1991, at the request of the MUC, the Quebec government dezoned
700 hectares of Montreal’s “Permanent” Agricultural Zone – some of the best prime
farmland in Quebec. This action reversed a long-standing commitment by the MUC to
protect the urban farm zone.
Human Scale Communities vs Sterile Subdivisions
In an article entitled, Sedentary lifestyles are a matter of design – urban design, printed
in The Gazette in May, 2004, Mr. Avi Friedman, who teaches architecture at McGill
University wrote:
“Building communities rather than subdivisions means that we introduce features that
foster social bonding to them. Pathways, play areas, benches and stores don’t simply
make environmental sense, they hold social wisdom too. …common-sense planning can
work on a city scale. It is one plan Montreal’s new neighbourhoods should adopt.”
Pierrefonds/Senneville to create a human scale quartier
“With 60,000 to 75,000 new housing units proposed for the city, 6,000 in Pierrefonds
West alone, it is important that these new developments be planned on a human scale to
create local communities with all the necessary amenities easily accessible on foot and by
bicycle. It is a hopeful signal that the new Pierrefonds/Senneville urban plan proposes a
mixed development project reflecting the principles of ‘new urbanism’ that is intended to
foster the development of a viable community on the scale of a ‘quartier’.” notes Mr.
Gareth Richardson of Pierrefonds Environment Committee, a Coalition member-group.
Re-Greening Initiatives/ Indigenous species
Re-greening initiatives, whether undertaken under the purview of the new Natural Spaces
Policy or the Politique de l’arbre (that is still in the formative stage) will need planning
timetables and targets. Note that the MUC’s ‘Biomass-Map’ report, in 1989, urgently
called for the vegetation cover of the Island to be augmented by 25% through regreening.
But, with the limited financial resources, investments in re-greening must wait
until the natural parklands are first secured. For re-greening purposes, a policy of planting
only indigenous, non-invasive species should be undertaken. Such species are hardy and
best adapted to this climate, thus ensuring the success of investments in planting projects.
Setbacks can help save Green Spaces
Mr. Avrom Shtern, of Les Amis de Meadowbrook, a Green Coalition member-group
contributes the following information:
“Cities have encroached up to the limits of industrial installations and railway yards,
which have had pre-existing rights, without regard for the need of safe distance setbacks.
A balance must be struck between the conflicting needs of viable economic activities and
healthy residential communities.
Class 3 industries such as railway yards and the recently cancelled Asphalt/Soil
Decontamination plants in Lachine must have setbacks of at least 300 meters from future
residential developments to avoid/ mitigate technological risk and conflicting land uses.
Such setbacks apply in Ontario under the aegis of the Ministry of the Environment.
Technological risks to sensitive lands and ecologically important green spaces are
recognized in the Ontario Municipal Guidelines on Compatibility Between Industrial
Facilities and Sensitive Land Uses. The guideline is “intended to be applied in the land
use planning process to prevent or minimize future land use problems due to the
encroachment of sensitive land uses and industrial land uses on one another.”
Meadowbrook Golf Course located in Côte-St-Luc-Hampstead, Montreal West and
Lachine Boroughs could not be built on or developed if such guidelines were applicable
here in Quebec.
The City of Montreal is urged to adopt its own setback standards – equivalent to those in
force in Ontario – for future industrial and residential development, railway rights-ofway,
as well as for green spaces and shorelines – as permitted under Quebec Law.”
(L.R.Q., chapitre S-2-3, Loi sur la sécurité civile, ch.1 article 7 )
Aging religious orders giving up land holdings – new green spaces?
With shrinking communities, religious orders (like the Grey Nuns) are giving up their
huge properties, long-held tax-free. These properties, many on the waterfront, contribute
significantly to the city’s biomass, helping offset the effects of urban pollution on air and
water. To retain these benefits, these lands should be brought into the public domain.
Then as green spaces, publicly accessible, these sites can serve the greater community.
In the Foreword to the Green Coalition’s June 2003 Urban Planning Brief, this appeal
was written:
“The Green Coalition respectfully urges the city administration move
quickly to adopt its long-promised Natural Spaces Policy and to
establish an Integrated Mass Transit Plan now, so that these essential
components may become integral to the 2004 Urban Plan as it evolves.”
The Natural Spaces Policy is soon to be adopted, but the Transportation Plan for
Montreal is to be adopted only in 2005, albeit crafted in respect of the orientations set out
in the Master Plan. An important planning tool, the CIMA II Report with its
recommendations for West Island Transport is not yet available.
Nevertheless, orientations, objectives and stances being evolved by the city
administration on transportation decision-making are set out in the Draft Version of the
Master Plan. Meetings during the year with city officials and Green Coalition
representatives provided exchanges of information. In addition, more information on
transport plans that are in the works was provided in the course of public consultation
sessions on the Master Plan. Specifically, such information was imparted by messieurs
Pierre Sainte-Marie and Alain Trudeau at the Dollard-des-Ormeaux session on May 25.
Information gleaned from these varied sources is not consistent in all respects!
Discussion of these confusing points follows later in this paper.
Virage Vert for Montreal Transportation
The Green Coalition applauds the transportation objectives expressed in the Draft Master
Plan. (Chapter 2.2) Emphasis is to be placed on public transit as Montreal’s
transportation mode for the future! And, “The City believes that it would be appropriate
for the Québec government to rethink its priorities and to use grants from the federal
government’s Canadian Strategic Infrastructure Fund for public transportation instead of
road building.” Green Coalition concurs!
Bicycling and walking are to be regarded as modes of transportation – refreshing! With
urban planning approaches for healthier communities, coupled with the excellent plans to
complete the City-wide Bicycle Network – the Island’s perimeter circuit – and
North/South links, these are certain steps towards sustainable development practice.
Clearly, bicycles will require a special niche on all trains and metros – at all times!
Virage Vert : In 2002, Nature-Parks were threatened by new roads
In May 2002, proposals in the CIMA I Report for building a “spaghetti network” of new
roads and autoroutes through most of the West Island”s Nature-Parks and other
unprotected green spaces became known. Green space defenders were galvanized into
action: on May 2, 2002, the Green Coalition wrote:
“Mayor Tremblay, please remember that countless numbers of your citizens
have struggled for years for the creation of these Nature-Parks. New roads
spawn more cars and pollution. – Is your city’s recent call for Kyoto ratification
just lip service? Our transit surveys show 87% of rush-hour vehicles on Trans-
Canada carry one person – the driver. There is no need for new roads to
encourage such practices. But there is great need for coherent strategies to
reduce vehicular traffic – car-pooling, dedicated lanes for filled vehicles, stiff
fees for reduced downtown parking, express-bus convoys, off-island beltways to
eliminate through trucking (proposed 440 is not a beltway) and light rail
systems like Green Coalition’s Doney Spur Proposal for a new Central West-
Island/ Downtown service.”
(Recommendations for Integrated Public Transit in the Coalition’s June 2003
Brief expanded on the strategies mentioned in this letter to the Mayor.)
The Visit to Bois-Franc Forest in Bois-de-Liesse Nature-Park in October 2002 was a high
point in efforts to save the green spaces from rampant road building. The Mayor, his
entourage, Federal and Quebec politicians and citizens walked the forest path where sixlane
de Salaberry was to be built. They also visited the Doney Spur to consider the old
spur’s potential as a new light rail axis for integrated mass transit.
Virage Vert: City officials say natural spaces are now safe from new
road building
Through the past year, in public question periods, in meetings with City officials, Green
Coalition representatives have been reassured that natural spaces come before roads. De
Salaberry Boulevard extension through Bois-Franc in Bois-de-Liesse Nature-Park would
be excluded from the new Master Plan; plans to construct the 440 Autoroute to Laval
through Île Bizard, its Nature-Park and through Point Théorêt (part of Cap Saint-Jacques
located on Île Bizard) were not favoured at all. Plans for road building through Angell
Woods were to be cancelled. Most particularly, assurances were repeated and definitive
that there would be no new roads constructed through the Anse-à-l’Orme Nature-Park or
any part of its Forest (Woods #3). That is, specifically, plans to extend Pierrefonds
Boulevard to Morgan Boulevard through the newly-named Corridor écoforestier de la
Rivière-à-l’Orme would be abandoned. Bravo!
In addition, assurances were made that, as public transportation planning evolves, serious
attention will be given to the Green Coalition’s Doney Spur Proposal for a light rail
system, a Surface Metro for Central West Island.
Laudably, the City is resolved that Notre-Dame Street East be an urban boulevard not an
Expressway. It is encouraging also that the City is leaning towards favouring an urban
boulevard for the Louis-H.-La Fontaine Boulevard corridor and a modest bridge to Laval,
instead of the more invasive version – Autoroute 25 to Laval. The latter would potentially
compromise the sensitive Islands Rochon, Boutin, Lapierre and Gagné and the Ruisseau
de Montigny Basin. Autoroute 25, like its mirror image in West Island, the 440 Autoroute
to Laval, would serve to exacerbate on-Island traffic congestion and promote off-Island
urban sprawl. Neither Autoroute is a true beltway. The Green Coalition urges the City to
hold to its rejection of the 440: its construction would be an ecological disaster in idyllic
Glitches in the Virage Vert! New plans shock Green Coalition
Officials are contradicted:
The repeated and definitive assurances made to Green Coalition reps by City officials
that no new road would go through the Anse-à-l’Orme Écoterritoire were contradicted by
Mr. Sainte-Marie on May 25. Mr. Sainte-Marie affirmed that Pierrefonds Boulevard will
be extended west through the écoterritoire, then south to join Morgan Boulevard; and that
the only question remaining is to determine the exact trajectory of the road. Sadly, the
Draft Master Plan appears to support Mr. Sainte-Marie’s statements in Chapter 2, action
Boroughs’ planning schemes show new road through écoterritoire:
The planning maps for the boroughs of both Pierrefonds/Senneville and
Beaconsfield/Baie d’Urfé have partial indications on their maps labelled “Projected
extension of Pierrefonds Boulevard to Morgan Boulevard”.
Doney Spur confusion:
During all the discussions about the Doney Spur with City and other officials (and they
have been numerous because the Green Coalition first made the Doney Spur Proposal in
1989) no use other than rail service has ever been mentioned for the Doney Spur! At
the hearings May 25, Green Coalition members were astounded to hear Mr. Sainte-
Marie’s remarks describing plans to roll buses on the old Doney Spur! In section 2.2 on
transport in the Draft Master Plan, a short reference is made of proposed initiatives
including reserved lanes for buses and taxis on the Doney Spur.
The Green Coalition has serious concerns about these new developments as described
Extension of Pierrefonds Boulevard through L’Anse-à-l’Orme
Écoterritoire to join Morgan Boulevard in Baie d’Urfé is unacceptable
Ecological Impact of Road
• Extending this artery while preserving the ecological integrity of L’Anse-à-l’Orme
Écoterritoire is wishful thinking: it is an attempt to reconcile the irreconcilable. And once
the sensitive zone is breached, more development alongside the road will surely follow.
• The hydrology of sensitive forested areas adjacent to the floodplain will be disrupted, in
particular the Anse-à-l’Orme Forest (also known as the MUC’s Woods #3), east of
Chemin L’Anse à l’Orme. This forest is ranked as among the most ecologically valuable
on the Island. Its relatively small size is a constraint as far as its long-term viability is
concerned and it can little afford further insult if adjoining areas are fragmented.
Biodiversity stands to be lost – and visitors impoverished.
• The viability of a beaver marsh that provides habitat for migratory water fowl will be
rendered impossible. The marsh lies to the west of the point where Chemin L’Anse-àl’Orme
crosses the Rivière-à-l’Orme and in the path of the only possible route for the
road extension. Strains on the water quality of the Rivière-à-l’Orme itself would increase;
sufficient water supplies to the river could decrease.
• Traffic will disrupt the tranquil conditions for wildlife in the corridor as well as for
people looking for a rare and peaceful retreat from the noise, smell and bustle of urban
life. One road, Chemin L’Anse-à-l’Orme, is enough of an intrusion – it destroys the
serenity of this prize locale and causes enormous stress to both wildlife and people.
• This écoterritoire is a unique zone that needs all the help it can get in the planning
process. Community participation must focus on achieving the protection of this rich
ecosystem; energies must not be siphoned off to fighting the new road building plan.
Futility of Extension
The road is to extend west then south from western Pierrefonds where new housing
development is planned to provide enhanced access to a station on the Rigaud commuter
rail line in Baie d’Urfe. During morning rush hour, most of these commuters want to go
east towards the city centre. This extension will move commuters westwards in their cars
to access the rail service that will then take them eastward; the entire wasteful process
being reversed in the evening rush hour. Note that the Rigaud rail service is efficient only
during the rush hours during the week. Off-hours and weekends are ill-served.
Ecologically valuable lands and their public use and enjoyment could be sacrificed to a
less than optimal public transit service. Priority is given to getting people to work,
inefficiently, through a disrupted natural space rather than enhancing opportunities for
their leisure in the same space. What a cheerless vision we have here!
Alternatives to destructive extension of Pierrefonds Boulevard
• The same commuter traffic that would use the Pierrefonds Boulevard extension could, as
easily, be channeled towards the Trans Canada Highway (A40) along the planned
boulevard in the servitude reserved for the A 440. The future residents of western
Pierrefonds would then be able to reach the train station in Baie D’Urfé by travelling
west on the Trans Canada (or Chemin Ste Marie) and accessing the interchange
constructed to provide a link between Rte 20 and Trans Canada Highway (A40).
Residents of any new development in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue would have easy access to
the new Morgan Boulevard/Trans Canada interchange without the Pierrefonds Boulevard
• The boulevard in the A440 servitude would also provide a direct route east by car or by
bus on the Trans Canada Highway proper or by way of Chemin Ste Marie. At present,
Chemin Ste Marie crosses the Trans Canada Highway at the approximate point where the
interchange for the boulevard in the 440 servitude would be placed (near the Colisseum
Theatre Complex). Shuttle buses could deliver riders from the new development in
western Pierrefonds along Chemin Ste Marie to the south side of Trans Canada Highway
to the terminal end of the Doney Spur at Stillview Avenue.
Doney Spur Light Rail Line should be developed as the backbone of
public transit in the West Island: Schedules and fares should be
integrated with the Metro.
• Doney Spur Light Rail Line (first proposed by the Coalition in 1989) is the keystone
piece of the Green Coalition’s integrated mass transit strategies. The old Spur has the
potential to be the new Surface Metro for central West Island, operating with schedules
and fares comparable to existing Metro lines, conveying passengers to and from
Montreal’s downtown core.
• Doney Spur runs west to east through the heart of the West Island. The Spur is a virtually
disused freight rail line that starts at Stillview Avenue* in Pointe-Claire and goes
eastward along the south side of one of Montreal’s most congested and problematic
arteries, the Trans Canada Highway. Then the Spur curves north past Bois-de-Liesse
Nature-Park to join the Two Mountains line near Highway 13. Doney Spur service can be
linked at Bois-Franc Station to the entire Metro system, once the planned extension of the
Orange Line from Côte Vertu to Bois-Franc is complete.
*The Doney Spur right-of-way can possibly be reclaimed as far west as St. Charles
• Doney Spur Light Rail Line can be an important axis for public transit, offering an
attractive alternative to daily commuters, alleviating traffic on the Trans Canada Highway
and precluding road network building in the same region. The Doney Spur service can
have a dramatic effect on the future development of a West Island “downtown”, its
commercial core, centred on St Jean Blvd and the Trans Canada Highway. Serving the
growing West Island suburbs, stations along the Spur can provide access to Lakeshore
General Hospital, the Fairview Hub, Saint-Laurent’s Techno and Industrial Parks, Boisde-
Liesse Nature-Park, etc.
Surprise Proposal to roll buses on Doney Spur! No cost/benefit studies,
no environmental impact studies are quoted in the Draft Master Plan to
warrant this sudden change in vocation for Doney Spur.
The proposal in the Master Plan for bus service on the Doney Spur
Line, with a possible upgrade to rail service in the indefinite future, is a
recipe for failure. For the reasons stated below, buses will not draw the
sort of passenger volume that will justify an upgrade.
• Bus service will not capture the commuting public’s imagination; buses will not attract
riders in significant volume; a train service will. The full trains on the Rigaud and Two
Mountains demonstrate this. The riders that could equivalently fill the Doney Spur Light
Rail Service now wait in the Trans Canada.Highway congestion in their cars. Also, for
the most part, buses only appeal to students, the elderly and those who don’t own cars.
• Commuters are far more likely to gravitate to a high capacity light rail train than to a bus
because: 1. they are more likely to find a place in the train than on a bus 2. they are far
less likely to have to wait for the next train than for the next bus. This reliability factor is
an important draw for ridership.
• As a light rail line, Doney Spur could deliver large volumes of people on a tight schedule
into the downtown public transit system in less time and with less stress and pollution
than the present private vehicle alternative.
• Doney Spur is the only transit solution in the West Island that can satisfy Montreal’s
declared sustainable development objectives.
• Two new overpasses on the Trans Canada Highway, one at Delmar/Tecumseh between
Sources and St Jean Boulevards, the other at Stillview between St Jean and St Charles
Boulevards, could relieve bottlenecking on the three existing overpasses while providing
ready access to the Doney Spur line from north of the Trans Canada.Highway. The two
new overpasses could favor bus shuttles during rush hour. The shuttle buses could bring
passengers to the Doney Spur line from park and ride facilities in peripheral localities.
• The Doney Spur right-of-way must be preserved intact for light rail public transit
use – if not in the short term, then certainly for such use in the future. In the
interim, the Spur can serve as a linear/nature corridor, for walking/cycling.
The City of Montreal, in conjunction with the AMT(Agence métropolitaine de transport),
should be acquiring or otherwise securing the abandoned, or underused railway lines on
its territory for light rail transit (or even modern trolleys where appropriate) in the longer
term and for linear/nature corridors, for walking/cycling in the shorter term. Examples of
such rights-of-way are: the Montreal/Lachine Subdivision (Victoria/Bouchard), the
Lasalle Loop, the North/South Lachine Canal Bank Branches, the Park Avenue
Subdivision and of course the Doney Spur. Serious attention must be given to enacting a
moratorium to prevent any building in such rail transit corridors.
TOD – Transit Oriented Development and ‘Intensification”
The Green Coalition is completely in accord with TOD or Transit Oriented Development
– the principle of intensifying residential and commercial development, as well as
community services, close to metro and rail public transit nodes. This can promote
sustainable development practice, reducing the eating up of natural and other land in
uncontrolled urban sprawl. Creating new, denser communities close to transit hubs can
reduce the dependency on the automobile
TODs inappropriate in écoterritoires: Creating intensification poles within the last
rare, remaining natural ecosystems in the City – within the écoterritoires is inappropriate.
Two areas deemed for Intensification, shown on map 2.2.2 of the Master Plan are located
in particularly sensitive natural environments within the Écoforestier corridor of Rivièreà-
l’Orme near Beaurepaire Station and within the Rapides du Cheval-Blanc Écoterritoire
near the proposed new train station at Cheval Blanc. These areas must be spared the
impacts of high density development.
Particularly distressing is the immense development with its Miami Beach profile slated
for Cheval-Blanc West. Five 10-storey towers and fifteen other substantial structures are
to loom over the shoreline green space. The mega-project appears to compromise
guidelines in the Master Plan for boosting Montréal Bleu! Chapter 2, objective 11–
enhance the island character of the City’s identity; action 11.2 – Control the site coverage
and height of buildings along the waterside….Maintaining visual access to the water ….
Rethink new train station at Cheval Blanc: Divert investment to Doney Spur Line
Planners and decision-makers should rethink plans for a new station at Cheval-Blanc on
the Two Mountains Line – its capacity is already exhausted – and the line goes off-Island
just past Cheval Blanc, providing little service to most of West Island – even if the line is
double-tracked. The new station will pull desperate train-commuters looking for a seat on
the train to the environs. With the population explosion of the mega-high-rise project in
this zone “enclavé”, major traffic headaches are on the way. Instead, investments should
be diverted to the Doney Spur Light Rail Line to serve a broad spectrum of West
Islanders, while offering opportunities for “intensification” and for economic exploitation
along the Line – a gold mine!
Vacant land ideal for enhanced transit hub at St Jean Boulevard on Doney Spur
The large tract of vacant land on the south/east corner of Trans Canada Highway and St
Jean Boulevard, diagonally across from Fairview Centre, should be secured now by the
City. This site will be invaluable as a major transit hub on the Doney Spur Light Rail
De Salaberry servitude should be deleted
When the Montreal Urban Community purchased the southern part of the Bois-Franc
Forest for $14.9 million in April of 1990, it was a magnificent addition to the Bois-de-
Liesse Nature-Park! But the deed of sale included a servitude, (33.5 meters wide) through
the middle of the forest for the construction of six-lane de Salaberry. This legal servitude
reinforced the provision for the construction of the road that had been included in the
Schéma d’aménagement in 1987. Green Coalition members are celebrating the news that
the de Salaberry extension is finally going to be removed from the Master Plan, the new
But, there are still serious concerns – if the legal servitude is retained it would be far too
easy for any future administration to bring back the plan and build the road. The Green
Coalition urges the City to take the necessary legal steps to remove the de Salaberry
servitude from the title deeds to the Bois-de-Liesse Nature-Park.
The City of Montreal’s Master Plan is the blueprint for the future of our beautiful
Island Metropolis. The Green Coalition is proud to make some contribution to
shaping the city’s sustainable development. We extend our thanks to all who have
made our participation possible.
June 2004