Following Projet Montreal Leader Valérie Plante’s win in the city-wide mayoral election on Nov. 5, other Projet Montreal candidates swept elections for Borough Mayor, City Councillor, and Borough Councillor in Plateau-Mont-Royal on the same day. The candidates’ victories signal resounding approval of their platforms to improve the economic and environmental sustainability in the borough, where many McGill students live.
“This is a party that cares about accessibility for everyone,” Kiana Saint-Macary, U3 Arts and Sciences and Projet Montreal volunteer, said. “I’m ecstatic about the election results.”
Running for his third term as mayor of the Plateau-Mont Royal borough, which encompasses the Milton-Parc, Plateau, and Mile End neighbourhoods, Luc Ferrandez garnered 65.6 per cent of the vote, defeating Équipe Coderre opponent Zach Macklovitch. The Projet Montreal candidates running for the six other council positions in Plateau-Mont Royal won by similar margins. Ferrandez pledged to carry on with the environmentally-friendly transportation policies that characterized his tenure.
Beyond the highly-discussed Pink Metro Line, Projet Montreal officials have proposed several other plans to improve transportation in the Plateau-Mont Royal. During his previous terms as borough mayor, Ferrandez lowered speed limits and made many streets one-way to improve biker and pedestrian safety. To build on Ferrandez’s policies, Projet Montreal officials have suggested installing a bike lane heading east on Avenue des Pins.
“With the collaboration of [the Montreal city council], we'll be able to move quickly on having a secure cycling path that will be helpful for a lot of McGill students who need to go east,” Jeanne-Mance Borough Councillor Maeva Vilain said.
Projet Montreal’s focus on public transportation has impressed many students concerned about the environment, who contend that these projects will reduce the carbon footprint of commuters by providing more alternatives to driving and by shortening travel times. Andrew Figueiredo, U2 Arts, volunteered with Denis Coderre's Plateau team, but agrees with the importance of eco-friendly transit.
“Transportation is so much more than how you get places, it's a matter of sustainability,” Figueiredo said. “The more public transit the better in that regard.”
Projet Montreal officials also emphasized the importance of improving the cleanliness of the Milton-Parc neighbourhood, a frequent point of complaint among residents because of the heavy student presence there. Vilain pointed to a joint project headed by the SSMU Community Affairs Committee and the Projet-led borough government to collect furniture thrown out on the street to clean and sell for future use.
“[Collecting furniture is] beneficial for the cleanliness of the streets but also for environmental issues,” Vilain said. “It's a shame to throw all of that away.”
Yet some students who admire Projet Montreal’s agenda raised concerns about whether the party has sufficient experience to implement their program effectively.
“Most of their candidates were fine and dandy candidates but they weren't people who had a lot of experience, in either government in public services, or even in business,” Figueiredo said. “Many of them were just local activists. There's no problem with that, but when you have a new majority in place, you need to have that experience there.”
Looking forward, Projet Montreal officials expressed the importance of engaging with students and residents beyond the election season.
“I really want people who live in Jeanne-Mance to see that having a university close to them is something positive,” Vilain said. “I want the students to feel aware that they are living in a real neighbourhood and not just on a campus.”