Sherbrooke Street West Gets Unasked For Renovations.

Seems merchants and residents were not consulted to do work that some are saying was neither asked for nor needed. Let’s hope this will not be a repeat of the disaster of last year on The Main where at least 14 businesses closed because of the street being mostly inaccessible for a year and a half. Here is a letter from Peter McQueen of Projet Montreal.

The sidewalks on Sherbrooke Street in NDG between Girouard and Grand, 
which were not in terrible condition, are being replaced and the street 
repaved at a cost of several million to taxpayers.  There were no 
consultations with the merchants or the residents.   The new sidewalks 
will have exactly the same shape as the old ones even though residents 
of NDG are demanding commercial street sidewalks and crosswalks that 
are safer for pedestrians.

Our local counsellor Marcel Tremblay, and borough mayor Michael 
Applebaum, are passing the buck on this questionable expenditure, 
claiming city center authorized the work because Sherbrooke Street is a 
major artery.  We understand that certain aspects of traffic flow (for 
emergency vehicles for example) and snow removal on major arteries must 
be dealt with in a centralized manner, but we wonder why city center 
has responsibility for sidewalks as well (must be all those people 
speedwalking through our borough from the east end to Montreal West!).

 Our 100 person poll of neighborhood merchants and residents revealed a 
mixture of opinions about the work.   Although some (older) residents 
did feel there were spots that needed repairing because of cracks and 
steep slopes to corners that were icy in winter, many were surprised 
and disappointed by the priority given to this particular repair in a 
borough with a neglected, unfinished bicycle path along DeMaisonneuve 
and many badly paved streets (have you driven up Royal recently, or 
down Westhill from Monkland?).

Questionable expenditures like this occur in Montreal because of the 
centralized and secretive nature of power in our municipal 
institutions, from Mayor Tremblay's executive committee of the city, to 
Applebaum's Comité Consultatif d'Urbanisme (CCU) of the borough, both 
of which meet in private.  A best case solution to this problem would 
be a wide ranging participatory budget, where the public would get a 
vote on what spending priorities should be in each borough.  Residents 
could force the city to spend the key, modest amounts (in the thousands 
not millions) that would most improve the quality of life in a 
neighborhood -- for example, adding ramps for baby carriages, bicycles,
 
shopping carts and wheelchairs to the Melrose tunnel under the CP train
tracks. In the case of the Sherbrooke Street sidewalks, there were no 
consultations at all, not even with the merchants who pay the taxes and 
are most aware of what is going on with their street.   Ever since the 
local SDC merchants' association collapsed due to differences of 
opinion about mandatory dues several years ago, Marcel Tremblay has 
shown no leadership in trying to organize improvements on this vital 
and lively strip running right through the heart of his district.   Too 
many responsabilities city wide, like snow removal and graffiti 
eradication -- unsuccesful campaigns, we believe, since they continue 
to be the two most common complaints of the merchants on Sherbrooke St.

Finally, if we are going to get major work like this done, let's use 
the occasion to improve the street according to modern principles of 
commercial street design being applied in cities all over the world, 
which our current Montreal administration only pays lip service to.  
Lower pedestrian injuries and make the street more inviting to shoppers
 
by extending the curbs at each intersection so that parked cars cannot 
obstruct clear sightlines, and indicate pedestrian crosswalks across 
all the sidestreets and across Sherbrooke at all traffic lights with 
some kind of differentiated pavement.

Marcel Tremblay should have known about these principles and applied 
them on Sherbrooke, since a concerned group of enlightened citizens in 
the Monkland Village has been consistently pushing for their 
implementation in our borough since 2006, with some success on Monkland 
(see their independant letter on this same subject).  Is Marcel 
Tremblay listening to his constituents?  Does he not think that 
Sherbrooke Street is as important and can be as successful as Monkland 
with some concerted action by the city, the merchants and the 
residents?

To find out more about the decisional structures of the city of 
Montreal and how we can reform them, please come out on Thursday June 
19th at 7PM to St-Antonin's church, 5391 Snowdon corner Earnscliffe to 
hear Magda Popeanu, president of Projet Montreal, and André Cardinal, 
former MCM councillor give a presentation on local democracy.

Peter McQueen
Cym Gomery
Projet Montreal CDN-NDG

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