Montreal's urban sprawl grows steadily worse, report finds

Mayor Valérie Plante says the need for more public transit options is clear, in light of a report by the Montreal Metropolitan Community that found the number of people driving into the city from outlying areas continues to climb.

Mayor Valérie Plante calls for improved public transit options

Roughly 100,000 commuters from municipalities bordering the CMM come to work in the Montreal metropolitan area every day, adding to the city's traffic woes. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

Urban sprawl is intensifying on the outskirts of Montreal, according to a new report that has Mayor Valérie Plante calling for a paradigm shift.

The report, released Monday by the Montreal Metropolitan Community (CMM), found that the number of people driving into the city from outlying areas has climbed steadily over the last decade.

The CMM is made up of 82 municipalities, home to about four million people. Another 100,000 commuters from the municipalities bordering the CMM — about four in ten workers, in 30 of those municipalities — come to work in the metropolitan area every day, according to data provided by the 2016 census.

Of those, 94 per cent primarily use a car to get to work, adding to the region's traffic woes, the report said.

Trend can't continue, says Plante

On average, since 2015, the CMM has lost 7,000 people per year to outlying areas: about 4,000 to the areas north of the city — the so-called northern crown — and 3,000 to the south.

The report blames the rise in the construction of single-family homes in outlying areas. The result, the report says, is a loss of agricultural land and green space.

The solution, according to Massimo Iezzoni, the CMM's executive director, is to reduce the number of automobiles and increase the use of public transit.

To do that, he said municipalities should be required to follow the same density rules as the CMM when it comes to building new homes. 

"If we want to put massive investments into public transit, we need to ensure a denser population," he said.

Plante, the president of the CMM, supports that position. 

The Montreal mayor said in a tweet she is "deeply concerned" about the findings of the report and said the trend cannot continue.

"We need to review the paradigm and offer public transit options to the people of greater Montreal," Plante said.

With files from Benoît Chapdelaine


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