The BAPE consultations

As required by provincial law, the provincial office of environmental hearings (BAPE) held its public consultations on the environmental impacts of the Turcot Interchange in June 2009. It delivered its final report in September of that same year.

110 different individuals and groups presented memoires to the panel. 87% of the memoires presented were critical of the project; 6.5% were in support, while 6.5% were unclear.

Given the number of memoirs expressing serious concerns with the project - including several municipalities and various provincial ministries - many expected the BAPE to recommend that the MTQ come up with a new plan. To their surprise, the BAPE report was muted in its critiques, and the Ministry of Parks, the Environment and Sustainable Development recommended in favour of the project. It gave the MTQ 18 conditions in Decret 890-2010 which must be followed. These conditions do not question the MTQ's traffic-increasing design; instead, they focus mostly involve consultations with the neighbouring municipalities.

A few highlights:

The City of Montreal takes a stand, then backs down
The City of Montreal presented a memoire that argued that the project presented by the Ministry of Transport did not correspond to the spirit or the details of the City's Transport Plan This plan details strategies for reducing the space devoted to the automobile in Montreal, while improving public transport. However, the City of Montreal has now back-peddled on this position and now supports the MTQ's enlarged megahighway, even though this plan has not fundamentally changed. Tremblay has sold out all Montrealers in favour of his friends in Quebec City!

The Quebec Public Health Agency for Montreal argued that the project will increase negative health effects
The memoire presented by Quebec's public health agency cited increased respiratory and cardiovascular problems, obesity linked to car dependence, and increased pedestrian fatalities as likely effects of the Ministry of Transport's problem. Their excellent memoire can be read here

While the BAPE expressed some concerns about some aspects of the project - especially the expropriations of residential buildings - it did not question the premise that the highway capacity on the Turcot could be reduced. This despite the City of Montreal's desire to reduce dependence on automobile traffic in favour of more sustainable options, such as public transit.

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