No through traffic on Mount Royal this summer, but bus service will be extended

The city will close Camillien Houde Way to motorized traffic between the two parking lots on either side of the summit, only allowing buses, pedestrians, cyclists, emergency vehicles and funeral processions.

Mayor Valérie Plante says people will still be able to access parts of mountain by car

The Montreal skyline as seen from Mount Royal Friday, November 10, 2017 in Montreal. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

The City of Montreal will close Camillien Houde Way to most motorized traffic, increasing bus service but preventing other vehicles from crossing over Mount Royal, as part of a pilot project beginning June 1.

Only city, school and tourist buses, along with emergency vehicles and funeral processions, will be allowed to cut across the mountain, from one end to the other.

All other vehicles will be forced to stop at the Smith House parking lot if they're travelling from the east and at the Beaver Lake parking lot, coming from the west.

The pilot project, which runs from June 2 to Oct. 31, 2018, makes a 550-metre stretch of Camillien-Houde Way off-limits to through traffic.

The 711 bus service, a modified version of the 11 bus, which runs from Snowdon to Mont-Royal Metro during the summer, will start three weeks earlier than usual.

The city will close car traffic between the two parking lots on either side of the summit, only allowing buses, pedestrians, cyclists, emergency vehicles and funeral processions. (Ville de Montreal)

From June 2 to June 17, the bus will operate only on weekends. Starting June 18, the summer bus will run seven days a week. There will also be two new stops, at the Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery and at a newly announced rest area called Belvédère Soleil.

Just like Central Park, Plante says

At the announcement Friday, Mayor Valérie Plante said that, like New York City, which recently announced it would ban all cars and trucks from Central Park during the summer, the mountain needs to "return to its original purpose."

She said the city is "laying the groundwork for safer road-sharing on the mountain," and that public consultations would give citizens an opportunity to voice their opinions.

"I get that some people are against it. We are willing to hear what people have to say," she said. "We are going to move forward with a solid understanding of what people want."

Mayor Valerie Plante said she doesn't expect the change will keep people from accessing different parts of the mountain. (CBC)

Plante said she doesn't think the plan will have a negative effect on tourists wanting to access the mountain, however, she recognizes it will be an inconvenience to commuters.

"I think it will be more difficult for people who use it every day."

According to a document prepared by the city and posted on the website of its public consultation body, the Office de consultation publique de Montréal, drivers who currently use the mountain as a shortcut could see their commute increase by up to 12 minutes once the pilot project starts.

The same document predicts that streets such as Côte-Sainte-Catherine Road, Pine Avenue and Docteur-Penfield Avenue will see an increase in traffic.

Worries about access

Les Amis de la montagne, the non-profit group that advocates for conservation of the mountain, is concerned too few details of the pilot project have been publicized. They worry that will make access difficult for visitors unfamiliar with the area.  

"Mont-Royal Park is a park for the whole city and beyond," said Hélène Panaïoti, the group's director of communication.

"So the family that comes in from Sainte-Thérèse with their car ...  or the family from Côte-des-Neiges who comes on Sundays for a picnic — how they experience the pilot project is an important thing to take into consideration, as well."

The group is nevertheless supportive of the public consultation process, and it hopes large numbers of Montrealers come forward to their share their vision of the park. 

The plan has faced stiff criticism, including a petition signed by thousands of residents.

Opponents argue that blocking Camillien-Houde Way will reduce access to the mountain and create a barrier between the city's east and west ends. 

The pilot project will include some development on the mountain with the creation of a pop-up café and family-oriented events such as stargazing.

The move to reduce vehicular traffic comes after an 18-year-old cyclist, Clément Ouimet, died when he collided with an SUV that pulled a U-turn in front of his bicycle on Camillien-Houde Way last year.

With files from Sean Henry

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