Montreal

Support for Parc Avenue continues to grow, coalition says

Opponents of the proposal to rename Parc Avenue say they only need to get five more city councillors on board to ensure the motion will be defeated at a Nov. 27 municipal council meeting.

Opponents of the proposal to rename Parc Avenue in Montreal say they only need to get five morecitycouncillors on board to ensure the motion will be defeated Nov. 27.

Mayor Gérald Tremblay's plan to rename the artery after the late Robert Bourassa, Quebec's youngest premier,has fizzled since he announced the idea in October.

Merchants, residents and politicians have spoken outagainst the proposal, citing myriad reasons, including the need to preserve the area's heritage and lack of public consultation.

A loose coalition of opponents says pressure is mounting on the city as a network of online petitions continues to gain momentum, with more than 30,000 signaturescollected since mid-October.

The coalition claims to have a tacit understanding with many councillors, who have allegedly promised, either in public or behind closed doors, to vote against the proposal.

The Parc Avenue Merchant's Association says its members have visited 13council meetings in various boroughs across the city to gauge councillors' position on the issue.

"By doing this, we've identified people's positions and we've identified people who are soft in the mayor's party, and we've done our homework," said Chris Karidogiannis, a member of the association.

Some of the councillors who have already spoken out against the renaming plan promise they'll hold informal public consultations before the Nov. 27 vote.

Coun. Warren Allmand is organizing such a meeting, which, he said, should have happened shortly after the city announced the plan.

"We have to drive home the principle that if you're going to change streets, there has to be public consultation," he said.

Hundreds of people have called Allmand's office, as well as City Hall, to complain about the process.

It's difficult to understand why there is so much resistance to letting people have their say, saidCoun. Marvin Rotrand.

"I'm not sure why the city is so virulently fighting giving people a forum on this thing," he toldCBC News.

The mayormaintains there is no need forpublic consultations on the matterandthat councillors should discussit with their constituents.

"This is the recognized democratic process and, as a result of that, everyone will vote according to his conscience and the feedback he got from his citizens," Tremblay said Tuesday.

The mayorannounced in early November that councillors will be allowed a free vote on the proposal, rather than voting by party, as is the custom at Montreal City Hall.