Priority to pedestrians, but also more parking - this is the paradox that emerges from the first phase of consultations conducted by the City regarding the restructuring of Rue Sainte-Catherine West, which the President of the Executive Committee, Pierre Desrochers, summed up recently.
The city's designers formulated four restructuring alternatives in the stride of this summer's citizens survey. Overall, the place of pedestrians remains a key stake.
"People expect strong gestures regarding priority for pedestrians," affirmed Mr. Desrochers regarding the summer consultation during a press conference, insisting on the strong, enthusiastic response of the participants. But those who were consulted - residents, business owners and businessmen, and tourism agents - also seek an increase in the number of parking spaces in order to assure the commercial character of the arterial.
How can this paradox be resolved? "Perhaps, we would love parking on the periphery," suggests Mr. Desrochers. At this stage, all the options remain open about how to concretely respond to the stakes. The pedestrianization - will it be total or partial, event-based or seasonal? Will the parking on the street be spared? One thing is certain: the widening of the sidewalks is a basic given for the restructuring.
It's the next wave of consultations, articulated around four proposed planning options, that will allow for real scenarios to emerge in 2015. Construction is planned for 2016. The City wants to make this planning effort one of the legacies of the 375th Anniversary of Montreal in 2017.
But it's possible that only one part of the work will be realized in time for this great celebration. The first phase aims at the lots between Mansfield and De Bleury roads, and alongside Phillips Square.
The following themes emerged strongly from this summer's consultations:
- Identity and Positioning of the road: "The people of Montreal want an emblematic project, since this road is part of the city's character." Some want an urban boulevard; others want the road to reflect what is Montreal.
- Ambiance, landscape and the public domain: "The citizens aspire to create a calmer rhythm, while preserving its typical effervescence." They also want more trees, embankments and fountains for resting, and lighting or public art to animate the area.
- Travel: Pedestrianization, strengthened mass transit and a guaranteed parking supply must be harmonized.
The Four Planning Options:
- Two-way road: In order to improve on the lack of mass transit, while conserving the maximum number of parking spaces.
- Widened sidewalks: The road is reduced to three lanes, with one for parking in order to offer more comfort to pedestrians.
- Optimized sidewalks: A reduction to two lanes excludes parking.
- Road with multifunctional spaces: Converting the two parking lanes into spaces that can serve to welcome pedestrians, terraces, artworks or seasonal and contextual parking.
Do people overlook the impact on traffic patterns when re-imaging arterial roads such as this one? Is pedestrianization or parking a higher priority in your community?
Original article, originally published in French, here.
Credits: Data and images linked to sources.