It’s time to fast-track
the Dalle-Parc green bridge
The bicycle and pedestrian project is an essential link for resilient communities
By Steve Winkelman and Lisa Mintz
The Dalle-Parc pedestrian and bicycle bridge was promised to Montrealers as part of the Turcot project by former Transport Minister Sam Hamad in 2010. With most of the $3.7 billion highway project already completed, this key component that will benefit cyclists and pedestrians remains on the drawing board. While citizens wait patiently for provincial and municipal governments to reveal plans for the Dalle-Parc, the present context of the pandemic has made this green bridge more important than ever. With one fell swoop, the Dalle-Parc will encourage healthier lifestyles, reconnect communities cut apart by highways, add greatly to the security of cyclists and pedestrians, and reduce greenhouse gases.
Autoroute 20 has literally divided Montreal communities for decades. And for the past ten years, the Turcot project has subjected the Sud-Ouest, Ville St Pierre, and parts of NDG to constant noise, air pollution and traffic chaos. We must move beyond disconnection and disruption. Now is the time to invest in critical environmental and social infrastructure such as the Dalle-Parc.
With unanimous support from local and provincial elected officials, it is past time for the promised vision of Dalle-Parc to become reality.
The Dalle-Parc will be a literal green bridge for pedestrians, cyclists and wildlife that will reconnect NDG and Sud-Ouest. It presents a tremendous opportunity to address multiple social, economic and environmental concerns – for about one percent of the total cost of the Turcot project. With unanimous support from local and provincial elected officials, it is past time for the promised vision of Dalle-Parc to become reality.
Two is the new 30!
Once the Dalle-Parc bridge is built, the 30-minute bike ride from NDG to the Sud-Ouest will only take 2 minutes. Cyclists and pedestrians will not have to take dangerous, circuitous routes to cross over the highway.
Access to nature and safe infrastructure for walking and cycling are crucial for physical, mental and economic health. The Dalle-Parc will provide an essential link in a growing network of natural spaces, bike paths and walking trails, including Falaise Saint-Jacques, Parc Angrignon, Parc des Rapides, Meadowbrook and Mount Royal Park. Benefits of this greenway will include: cleaner air, increased active transportation and fewer pedestrian and cyclist injuries.
Resilient “15-minute” neighbourhoods
The pandemic has underscored the value of easy access to neighbourhood shops, parks and services. Walkable communities with multiple safe and convenient travel options – including cycling and public transit – are more resilient to shocks and disruptions such as traffic jams, flooding, power outages and fuel shortages. If one mode of travel or energy source is disrupted, there are other options. Also, if you can’t afford (or don’t want) a car, you can conveniently meet your daily needs.
Gateway to a green future
Mayor Plante’s recent announcement of the Parc-nature de l’écoterritoire de la falaise Saint-Jacques reinforces the critical role of the Dalle-Parc as an essential connective tissue between communities and as a green gateway into Montreal. This signature project is poised to become a powerful symbol of Montreal’s vibrancy, beauty and commitment to people and the planet. The improvements in quality of life from projects like the Dalle-Parc will help attract young families and businesses back to the city core – where people drive 65% fewer kilometres than off-islanders.
Build back better – and faster
The convergence of the pandemic, climate emergency and the economic crisis demands integrated solutions that help people, the planet and prosperity. The Dalle-Parc must be fast-tracked within the Provincial plan for economic recovery from COVID-19, to meet pressing community needs and inspire continued evolution toward a healthy, equitable, low-carbon and resilient future.
Feature image: Dalle-Parc concept, courtesy of the Ministère du transport du Québec
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Steve Winkelman, founder of Green Resilience Strategies, has 25 years of experience in climate change and sustainable development. He has supported 25 countries with policy and project development and implementation. He is co-author of the books Growing Cooler and Growing Wealthier, which put urban planning on the climate policy map.
Lisa Mintz sits on the board of the Green Coalition and is the founder of Sauvons la falaise. She is also an experienced community organizer, professional events coordinator and passionate birdwatcher.