1. Making way for green space
A study by the David Suzuki Foundation and Nature-Action Québec puts the economic value of the goods and services in the Greater Montreal "Green Belt" at as much as $4.3 billion per year. Tourism and recreation are among the highest-value activities, at $1 billion. This is one good reason to protect and increase Montreal’s green spaces, along with their obvious impact on Montrealers’ well-being, urban heat islands and air quality.COMMITMENT Protect existing green spaces and create new ones:
● Apply the concept of city walks and create a walk between Mount Royal and the river, all the way to Parc Jean-Drapeau. Extend the concept of city walks to the boroughs and create a green ribbon across the city;
● Complete the Mount Royal ring road for cyclists and pedestrians, Third Summit Park (behind the Université de Montréal ski hill) and the reconfiguration of the Remembrance interchange;
● Encourage "Green Neighborhoods" throughout the city and meet the goal of 300,000 new trees planted within 10 years (in line with the 2012-2021 Canopy Action Plan) with an action plan to eliminate the urban heat islands that plague certain areas;
● Encourage innovative projects for the greening of parking lots, such as replacing asphalt with "turf blocks" or reinforced grass to increase rainwater retention and reduce sewer overflow;
● Prioritize the creation of parks in disadvantaged neighborhoods, by encouraging public institutions to convert their large paved areas into publicly-accessible green spaces;
● Make the inclusion of green walls and green roofs (or white roofs) compulsory for new large residential, commercial and industrial construction and renovation projects citywide;
● Raise the target for the protection of natural habitats (land surface) to 8% as soon as the current 6% target in the Natural Spaces Policy has been met (it rose from 3% in 2004 to 5.8% in 2013).
2. A clean city
Flying paper and overflowing public garbage bins do not lend Montreal a favourable image, nor do they encourage Montrealers to take care of their environment.COMMITMENT Make the city cleaner and improve waste management:
● Add garbage bins, systematically collect garbage on the busiest arteries and introduce recycling collection in public places;
● Get the central vacuum system developed for the Quartier des spectacles up and running and extend it along a substantial section of Ste-Catherine Street;
● Complete the construction and commissioning of the composting and biomethanation facilities by identifying another site in the northern sector to replace the Saint-Michel site, in keeping with the principles of regional equity, as quickly as possible, to meet the Quebec government’s requirements;
● Make the necessary representations to the Government of Quebec to improve packaging practices and significantly reduce the volume of waste.
3. Better air quality
Data from the Environment Department shows that Montreal’s air quality improved substantially in 2012: only 49 poor air quality days were recorded (including 15 smog days), the lowest number of poor air quality days since 2008, when there were 68 (including 31 smog days).
Despite this encouraging data, we must continue efforts to improve air quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and address Montreal sources: nearly half of the city’s air pollution is produced here, by businesses, motor vehicles and wood heating in winter.COMMITMENT Continue to combat air pollution:
● Promote public transit and active transportation to reduce car use;
● Adopt "smart" parking practices to keep cars from driving around in search of parking spaces;
● Encourage all cities in the metropolitan area to follow Montreal’s example of prohibiting wood-burning fireplaces, a major source of residential pollution, as of 2020;
● Strongly encourage the use of geothermal heating systems, which are much cleaner, for new projects.
4. Dangerous goods: avert a disaster
The Lac-Mégantic train tragedy highlighted how important it is for all cities to take safety measures along railway tracks. Montreal cannot escape this concern: major rail lines cross the city from east to west and north to south. It is time to demand that standards applying to the activities of transport companies be amended, upgraded and strengthened, and to call for short-term measures to ensure the safety of Montrealers.COMMITMENT Amend the policy on the transportation of dangerous goods:
● Lobby the federal government to amend the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act to require railway companies, trucking companies and other transport companies to inform municipalities of the nature of the goods passing through their territories and the frequency of travel;
● Follow Federation of Canadian Municipalities guidelines by establishing 30-metre buffer zones between new housing and a main line railway and 300-metre buffer zones between new buildings and railway yards. These standards should be included in the new Island of Montreal Master Plan in 2014.
5. Better noise pollution management
Noise is an integral part of an urban setting, an active lifestyle, economic development, tourism and cultural development. But it can also be disruptive. In order to better manage noise, we must balance urban development with the legitimate needs of citizens. We favour a preventive, proactive approach.COMMITMENT Make a Montréal “noise map” to serve as a tool for the city administration, residents and developers:
● Draw a "noise map" for all the districts of Montreal to accurately determine the location and intensity of the various noise zones so as to preserve islands of quiet and address noise pollution;
● Guide the City’s actions so as to implement mitigation measures and educate developers by amending building standards in light of noise levels;
● Create a noise reduction guide for residents, businesses and institutions.