Cars may be allowed to cross Mount Royal... for a price

If you're one of the 25,000 or so people who have signed a petition calling on the city to reverse its decision to blocks cars from crossing Mount Royal good news, there may be hope for your cause, so long as you're willing to pay for it.

Faced with mounting criticism over the decision, Montreal's man in charge of large parks Luc Ferrandez responded in a letter on Facebook Thursday.

"Montreal is once again divided along into yes and no camps - but this time on the issue of closing Camillien Houde to through traffic. That's fine; this city loves debates" Ferrandez wrote.

The Plateau-Mont-Royal responded to some of the questions Montrealers have been asking, specifically if there is a way to reduce traffic without interrupting transit.

"It is not possible" he wrote. Ferrandez said for the road to be a true "chemin de parc" completely different type of road would be needed: very narrow, no shoulders, trees planted close to the road, curves that would force a speed reduction. 

"It just can't be done with the present level of traffic. Some citizens were proposing to re-landscape the road (make it narrower for example) in order to reduce the traffic. It is the other way around. If you want to re-think the road - and particularly its entrance on Park Avenue; first you have to tremendously reduce the volume of cars."

He offered photos of other roadways in various parks, including Carriage Road and Cadillac Mountain in Maine, Tower Road in Vermont and Blue Ridge Parkway in Carolina. 

"None of the roads shown in this post can afford 12 000 cars. They don't kill the park they go through; they enhance it. And the silence they provide makes possible to develop the park to the very edges of the road - pedestrian paths included. That my friend is a road in a park" he wrote.

Ferrandez went on to dismiss the notion the announcement was improvised and not democratic, saying people on both sides of the debate have put forward reasonable arguments that will be considered as the pilot-project moves forward.

The letter ends with a response to an idea first proposed by Montreal Gazette columnist Josh Freed, a $3 toll to use Camillien Houde.

"At this price it would still be a highway. But it could work if, for example, you would have to pay entrance fees for the park that would include parking rights" Ferrandez wrote.

"The cost would be higher than $3 though, probably around 10$ though we could offer monthly or annual rates. This can and likely will be discussed in the public consultation to come."

Ferrandez said more details will be announced in the coming weeks to address the many points that have been made concerning special needs mountain goers and families with young children using both parking lots.

In the end Ferrandez is not backing down.

"Compromising a park's beauty and the peace of those enjoying it just to save a minute or two is not a right guaranteed by the constitution."