‘Not acceptable’: Some Parc-Extension residents denouncing borough’s new bike paths

“The needs of everyone in the neighbourhood need to be taken into consideration,” says Sia Spanoudaks, denouncing the new bike paths in Montreal's Parc-Extension, as her parents' accessible parking spot is being moved. Alyssia Rubertucci reports.

By Alyssia Rubertucci

It’s been two years that Montrealer Spanoudakis’ parents have relied on their accessible parking spot in front of their home on Querbes Ave. in Parc-Extension.

But by next week that all changes. The spot is being moved, now that the borough is implementing a bike path plan and removing 250 parking spots in the area.

Spanoudakis says the borough hasn’t listened to hundreds of citizens concerns and they’ve been speaking out for months.

READ: Parc-Extension residents divided about proposed redesign of bike lanes

“The needs of everyone in the neighbourhood need to be taken care of and into consideration,” she said. “You can’t make way for one need by taking away another, doesn’t make sense and explanations are not being provided.”

(Courtesy: Alyssia Rubertucci, CityNews image)

Her father Emmanuel’s spot will soon be located 33 meters away from his home.

“I already wrote to the city that what’s likely going to happen is my father will be stopping the car in front of the house to escort and help my mom to get into the house and then he will go and park,” she said. “That’s not ideal, but that is the reality in the situation that is being presented to us, that’s the only choice.”

(Courtesy: Alyssia Rubertucci, CityNews image)

The frustration was evident at the last borough council meeting on September 5, with several interruptions by citizens asking for answers.

“Why was the only selection and decision to remove the parking spots in order to make way for bike paths? Where were all the other options in terms of keeping the bike paths and the parking spots making space for everyone? How can we have an inclusive solution? We’re not seeing that,” said Spanoudakis.

Resident Raham Wajaid says it’s difficult already to find parking before the changes have even been made.

“28 years I’m here and I’m working,” he said. “The rich people, they’re parking at their houses, but we rent and living in the apartment, this is not good for us.”

Ball Street has already been transformed with it turning into a one way street parking spots removed here and then bike paths now in the streets. Marven’s Restaurant, which has been in business for over 50 years, says they’re being drastically affected by these measures.

“It’s affected my lunches a lot, I must be down like about 30 per cent,” said Steve Costopoulos. “I hate to see what’s going to happen in winter time because it’s a mess here anyway in winter time with the parking, with the snow removal and everything.”

(Courtesy: Alyssia Rubertucci, CityNews image)

Many cyclists and residents are in favour of the new bike paths, as they are lined with bollards and placed between parked cars and the sidewalk for added safety.

“Because streets are part of the public domain, they belong to all of us,” says resident Julien Acosta. “It belongs just as much to the 50 per cent of households in Parc-Extension that do not own a car as it does to those who do. Creating secure bike path is about that : restoring a bit of balance in a very unbalanced allocation of space.”

The Mayor of Villeray-St-Michel-Parc Extension Laurence Lavigne Lalonde tells CityNews in a statement Friday:

“I understand that the arrival of bicycle paths will disrupt the habits of some residents. But my responsibility is to offer safe mobility options to all citizens, regardless of how they travel. And I have an additional duty towards the most vulnerable users, pedestrians and cyclists. That being said, I would like once again to reassure people who find themselves in a particular situation. I am thinking, among others, of people with reduced mobility, or those who must receive health care at home. We obviously care about them and we will support them to find solutions, as we already do.”

“We already have more than 1000 signatures from residents who are opposing the removal of the parking spots,” said Spanoudakis. “We’re not being listened to, so what else can we do?”

A protest is planned for Monday morning, at the start of the bike path construction on Querbes. 

“We’re going to continue to ask for answers, information, and continue to push for alternate solutions, even though the bike path plan as designed will be going through, we’re still going to continue to voice our concerns and be open for a dialogue,” said Spanoudakis.

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