Montréal’s Ambitious Urban Plan: Transforming Parc-Extension and Beyond

Montréal’s Ambitious Urban Plan: Transforming Parc-Extension and Beyond

The borough of Parc-Extension is set to experience significant changes as part of Montréal’s ambitious urban development plan. Mayor Valérie Plante’s administration has unveiled a bold initiative aimed at addressing the city’s housing crisis and stagnant public transportation system by constructing 200,000 new housing units and expanding the public transit network fourfold by 2050.

This comprehensive Plan d’urbanisme et de mobilité 2050 details strategies for improving housing, mobility, security, quality of life, and climate resilience. The goal is to make Montréal a more livable, work-friendly, and habitable city, addressing urban, environmental, and social challenges over the next 25 years.

Mayor Plante emphasized the plan’s focus on creating a fairer, greener, and more equitable future for Montréal. The city aims to build 200,000 new housing units within 26 years, with 20% designated as non-market housing managed by cooperatives or community groups to shield them from real estate speculation and rent spikes.

Additionally, the city plans to decarbonize buildings by 2040 and expand the public transit network from 80 to 360 kilometers, enhancing housing density along these infrastructures. This expansion includes rapid transit buses, trams, trains, metros, and the REM.

A key aspect of the urban plan is integrating real estate development with future public transport networks, ensuring new neighborhoods are designed with accessibility to these infrastructures in mind. This approach aims to avoid the pitfalls of previous developments that led to increased car use and congestion.

In tandem with increasing housing and public transit density, the administration aims to green 40% of Montréal’s territory by creating 125 kilometers of green corridors. The plan also includes dedicating 30% of public street space to sponge infrastructures to reduce flood risks in vulnerable areas and promote sustainable mobility.

However, the ambitious vision comes at a challenging time for Montréal, marked by traffic congestion and numerous infrastructure repairs. The administration aims to increase the share of trips by public or active transportation to 70% within the next 26 years, connecting 44% of employment hubs to these modes of transport.

Despite the plan’s promise, the city’s bureaucratic processes have slowed down development, with permit issuance delays increasing by 34% since 2018. This has led to a significant drop in new construction starts, which fell by 37% last year.

Moreover, while the administration promises 200,000 new housing units in 26 years, only 5,200 were initiated in 2023, down from 14,100 in 2022. Many completed projects also lack social housing units, as developers opt to pay fines rather than meet social housing requirements.

In terms of expanding the public transport network, past projects like the REM and the blue line extension have faced lengthy timelines and budget challenges. Financing these expansions remains a critical question, especially considering the recent increase in vehicle registration fees to cover public transport deficits.

Despite these hurdles, the Plante administration’s vision for a transformed and sustainable Montréal is clear. For neighborhoods like Parc-Extension, this plan could mean increased housing availability, better access to public transport, and improved urban green spaces, contributing to a higher quality of life. However, achieving these goals will require overcoming significant bureaucratic and financial obstacles, ensuring that the promises of a greener, more accessible city become a reality for all its residents.