Could Sunday's byelection be a turning point for Plateau-Mont-Royal?

While the rest of Canada is contemplating a neck-and-neck election at the federal level, voters in Montreal’s hippest borough are headed to the polls to decide on their next mayor Sunday.

All 3 candidates say they're confident as voters head to the polls just two weeks before the federal election

From left: Luc Rabouin, Jean-Pierre Szaraz and Marc-Antoine Desjardins are all running for mayor of the Plateau-Mont-Royal. (Radio-Canada)

While the rest of Canada is contemplating a neck-and-neck election at the federal level, voters in Montreal's hippest borough are headed to the polls to decide on their next mayor today.

But who will they choose?

Projet Montréal has long had control over Plateau-Mont-Royal with Luc Ferrandez in the driver's seat since 2009 — pushing forward legislation that regularly made headlines across the city.

There's been grumbling about Ferrandez's sometimes controversial proposals, but he's also had his fair share of support from those who found his ideas for making the Plateau a greener place to be innovative

He quit politics in May because, he said at the time, Projet Montréal was failing to protect the planet.

Even if Ferrandez captured 66 per cent of the vote in 2017, all three candidates told CBC News that they are brimming with confidence on the eve of the byelection.

'Vibrant commercial streets': Projet Montréal

Luc Rabouin, who has lived in the borough most of his adult life, is flying Projet Montréal's flag. He's a longtime community organizer and non-profit leader who is currently the director of strategic development at the Caisse d'économie solidaire Desjardins.

With that background, he knows what businesses in the area need to flourish, he said. He wants to develop the borough's "vibrant commercial streets," but economic prosperity is far from his only goal were he to be elected mayor.

"First I want to continue this idea of a green neighbourhood — greener, traffic calming, public transit, safe pedestrians, safe cyclists," he said.

"But I want to insist more on our local economy."

He wants to move forward in the same direction and values of the previous mayor, but "with a different approach," he said.

'For the people': Vrai Changement pour Montréal  

Marc-Antoine Desjardins, a lawyer, is running for Vrai Changement pour Montréal. Having lived in the borough since 2011, the avid cyclist said he wants to eliminate the divisions, in-fighting and "moral superiority" that has crept into borough politics.

"I am for the people. I am for shaking hands instead of biting fingers," he said.

He wants to bring harmony to disputes between cyclists, pedestrians and motorists, he said. 

"People are fed up and voters told me specifically that I'm the one they're going to vote for," Desjardins said, noting his party has a strong platform with strategic plans that address a range of issues like sports, mobility and the environment.

"People want to move away from this bitterness sometimes that we feel from the people in power right now."

'Bring back democracy': Ensemble Montréal 

Ensemble Montréal's Jean-Pierre Szaraz, who lives in Mercier–Hochelaga–Maisonneuve, has worked in the Plateau for more than 20 years. He wants to "bring back democracy," he said.

Residents feel they are not being listened to and he wants to change that, he said. And one thing he has heard over and over again from the population is people are sick of seeing law-breaking cyclists pedalling on sidewalks.

"They're more scared of bicycles than cars, so that's a big concern," he said. "We want to protect pedestrians. We want to talk about it without avoiding the subject."

Szaraz said the parking situation is another hot-topic issue as drivers try to understand all the rules while permit holders want to see continuity across the borough in what they pay for guest parking passes.

He also wants to help businesses.

Fernandez has been "turning his back" on businesses for 10 years, he said, "so we're going to give them a voice as well."


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