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Jeremy Searle — Reviving Montreal's 'coffee shop' economy

 

 

Unfortunately for all of us, Montreal seems to have descended to the level of a coffee shop economy in which expensive cups of coffee are status symbols for people whose personal finances are often in a tight way.

 

Recently, I wrote about the need to make the public investments to put our downtown into shape by buying up some of the more strategic empty lots and using them either for new park space or for the building of public housing. Today, I want to look at generating economic activity and wealth in the western part of town and on an island-wide level.

 

Reviving the west end economy

 

Commercial: Back in the bad old days of ex-mayor Jean Drapeau, our city was cut in two for the excavation of the Decarie Expressway trench and since then business to the west of the highway has largely languished.

 

While it is not practical to cover over the Decarie Expressway, it would be relatively simple to hide it and to thus knit our city back together again. All that is necessary is to build an extra section of bridge on each side of the Decarie overpasses (especially at Sherbrooke Street) and to then either erect buildings (à-la old London Bridge) or put in park space backed by barriers high enough to make the highway invisible. Once the highway “disappeared” and the city became one again there would be no obstacle to the expansion of commerce and business activity continuing to flow west instead of hitting a wall at Decarie.

 

Meanwhile, the businesses on and around the Decarie service roads heading north and south would also benefit from having the highway hidden. It would be a very simple matter to clamp on an extra lane of roadway (attached to the highway walls with cantilevered supports) that could be used either as bicycle path or as host to additional greenspace.

 

Residential: In order to boost economic activity and bring down the average costs of maintaining the city it is also necessary to attract in more people — both to share the load and to support local business and commerce. The most obvious location to attract thousands of higher end taxpayers, investors and spenders would be the Glen Yard site currently earmarked for the new McGill hospital. Clearly, high value land should be used for activities that directly or indirectly generate the taxes that finance hospitals and other such publicly funded institutions. Given its superb location at the intersection of Westmount and eastern NDG the Glen Yards site, with its easy access to both the Vendome Metro station and the downtown Ville-Marie highway, is a perfect location for residential development.

 

Ten-thousand or so new high end condo dwellers in the west end would both boost the economy and throw a massive injection of extra taxes into the Montreal public economy. The McGill hospital could be better built on the Blue Bonnets site at Jean Talon and Decarie — a site that has access to the same Metro line (Namur) and similar or better highway access. In addition, having the hospital there would force the provincial government to ante up for the much needed Cavendish/Royalmount road link which would also re-route much traffic from the Trans Canada to Decarie, thus lessening congestion at the major intersection.

 

Boosting the island-wide economy: For any society or economy to function well, each generation has to make the effort to leave some substantial legacy for the next unless a wearing down and eventual collapse is to be accepted. Sometimes it is investments in canals or railways or roads or airports or dockyards or cultural and recreational facilities and sometimes it is simply my parents’ generation fighting to save the world. Sometimes it is simply a question of building on the shoulders that they have set us on and sometimes it is a question of rebuilding or repairing that which previous generations have already built for us. Sometimes it is simply a question of finishing the job that our predecessors failed or forgot to complete.

 

Unfortunately, since the epoch of ex-mayor Drapeau and his establishment of the modern Montreal tradition of ignoring infrastructure maintenance in favour of frills, little has been done in terms of maintenance and our city is falling into disrepair. One way to boost the Montreal economy would be to undertake a massive program of road and water main rebuilding. This would have the same positive effect on our economy as any other kind of construction boom and would also help us to grow our tourist economy while making us generally feel better about ourselves. Obviously, our leaders would have to convince the federal and provincial governments to come up with a large chunk of the money necessary to implement such a scheme.

 

However, the single greatest guaranteed boost for the west end and for the Montreal and regional economy would be the completion of the Decarie Expressway (15) with a direct link to the Laurentian Autoroute (15) to the north. The tunnel under Ville St. Laurent to connect the two together would get vehicles north and south without unnecessary delays related to detouring onto the TransCanada while the TransCan itself would be freed from most of its traffic congestion. The tunnel link has already been studied and approved by the Ministry of Transport but no one seems interested in actually getting it dug. The Decarie/Laurentian tunnel would eliminate uncounted lost hours in pointless idling and back-ups, lessen commuter trip times, save business money, get us all around faster and more efficiently and make our supporting road systems function more smoothly — which would in turn give our economy a much-needed shot in the arm. And, since better flowing traffic generates less pollution, making the traffic flow better would also help to achieve environmental objectives.

 

Does anybody have a shovel? Let’s start digging.

 

http://thesuburban.com/content.jsp?sid=34883087211204213941721025245&ctid=1000004&cnid=1015175

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However, the single greatest guaranteed boost for the west end and for the Montreal and regional economy would be the completion of the Decarie Expressway (15) with a direct link to the Laurentian Autoroute (15) to the north. The tunnel under Ville St. Laurent to connect the two together would get vehicles north and south without unnecessary delays related to detouring onto the TransCanada while the TransCan itself would be freed from most of its traffic congestion. The tunnel link has already been studied and approved by the Ministry of Transport but no one seems interested in actually getting it dug. The Decarie/Laurentian tunnel would eliminate uncounted lost hours in pointless idling and back-ups, lessen commuter trip times, save business money, get us all around faster and more efficiently and make our supporting road systems function more smoothly — which would in turn give our economy a much-needed shot in the arm. And, since better flowing traffic generates less pollution, making the traffic flow better would also help to achieve environmental objectives.

 

Do we have any idea what this tunnel would cost? I think it's a wonderful idea, however I seriously doubt we'll ever see this tunnel completed. It makes too much sense...and we all know that whenever something makes sense in this province, it is immediately rejected!

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C'est le genre de chose que les ingénieurs au MTQ rêve à avoir mais qui n'auront jamais les budgets pour le faire.

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C'est la première fois que j'en entend parlé. Je trouve égalemenbt que ce serait une excellente idée. Milliards de $$$ ? A-t-on ce genre d'argent entre le provincial et le fédéral ?

 

Le provincial n'a pas l'argent. Le fédéral est plein mais puisqu'il s'agit de la circonscription de Stéphane Dion, ne comptez pas sur eux!

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Vu des airs ça a l'air de sauver peu de kilomètres, mais c'est fou à quel point c'est bénéfique d'enlever la 15 de ce tronçon de la Métropolitaine... je pense que c'est le bout d'autoroute le plus achalandé au pays après la monumentale 401.

 

Le morceau restant de la 15 pourrait être "boulevard urbain Rockland"

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J'aime bien cet idée... pensez aussi a la réduction de smog et de polution en n'ayant plus d'embouteillages sans fin dans ce secteur!

 

Je suis 99.9% sur que le segment existant serait renumeroté A-515.

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