The City of Montreal’s getting ready to play host at a climate summig, but that’s putting its own climate work under the microscope, and some experts say the city could be doing more to go green.
A climate summit by and for Montrealers is scheduled to start next week. At a Monday press conference, Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante reiterated the city’s objective of becoming carbon neutral by 2050.
One of the mainstays of this goal is also the one that tends to draw some of the most political fire.
Plant hopes to achieve her climate goals, in part, through public transport projects like the new rapid-transit line currently under construction, the REM.
Its eastern line alone would run from downtown Montreal to Pointe-aux-Trembles in the east end, with its design including a 16-kilometre walkway and 24-km bike path.
Some environmentalists agree that public transit is the key. But Sabaa Khan, Quebec director for the David Suzuki Foundation, told CTV News more consultations should have taken place ahead of time.
“I think a lot of Montrealers, a lot of different neighbourhoods, feel left behind in [the planning] process,” she said.
Some are concerned the structure will obstruct downtown landmarks like Chinatown, and a report from the Autorité régionale de transport métropolitain (ARTM) claimed the $10 million price tag wouldn’t be worth predicted levels of ridership.
In addition to these issues, construction of the REM was linked to two sinkholes opening up in a wetland near the Pierre Trudeau International Airport.
Some critics also pointed fingers at the REM after the wetlands dried up, but an investigation by the Quebec Environment Ministry denied these claims.
But Plante has held firm to the project since its inception.
“How do we make sure to develop more options for people to leave their car at home when it’s possible? There has to be options, more active transportation.”
‘WE NEED CONCRETE SOLUTIONS’
At the press conference, Plante also discussed a recent trip to Miamia, Florida, where she signed a treaty swearing off fossil fuel exploration.
By her own admission, it was a symbolic move, as there is no fuel extraction in Montreal.
“That is symbolic but yet very important,” she said. “I think it’s important to take a stand against fossil fuels.”
But environment opposition critic Stephanie Valenzuela isn’t satisfied.
“Before going into more symbolism, we need concrete solutions. We need actual plans and deadlines so we can move forward,” she said.
Valenzuela pointed to the issue of recycling, saying the system needs some major improvements.
“The performance of our recycling center is known to be a bit of a failure,” she said. “About 25 per cent of our bales that are shipped to India are contaminated.”
Sabaa Kahn agrees, she says.
“Definitely waste management is not Montreal’s strong point. We are behind.”
A recent inspector general report recommended the city cancel its current recycling contract.
CLIMATE SUMMIT COMING UP
Montreal’s first climate summit is slated to take place at the Marché Bonsecours in Old Montreal next Tuesday.
Montreal businesses, community leaders and politicians will be in the crowd on May 3 to discuss specific actions the city can take to curb climate change.
The summit is organized by the Montreal Climate Partnership and the City of Montreal, in collaboration with the Montreal Regional Environment Council, Vivre en ville, the Institut du Québec, Propulsion Québec, the Trottier Family Foundation and the Montreal Junior Chamber of Commerce.
–With files from The Canadian Press.