What Would Montreal Look Like in 2023?

Mayoral Candidates Discuss Visions of the Future

  • Ten mayoral candidates discussed their visions for the future of Montreal at an event on Friday. Photo Brandon Johnston

Ten candidates in the race to become Montreal’s next mayor, including the four frontrunners, outlined their visions for the city over the next decade in seven-minute speeches at Megaphone Montreal on Friday.

The candidates were asked to imagine what Montreal would look like in 2023, after 10 years of their administration, assuming they’d be re-elected twice more after the upcoming Nov. 3 election.

Megaphone, a project presented by the National Film Board of Canada and the Quartier des spectacles, is an open-air platform for public speaking that invites newsmakers and regular citizens to take to a microphone at Place des Arts to express their thoughts.

The Frontrunners

Richard Bergeron, Projet Montréal

Urban planner Richard Bergeron promised Montreal will have “regained its confidence” by 2023 if he’s chosen to govern the city, as he’ll make public the contracts and data of the municipal administration. He also said that there would be fewer street-level parking lots and more housing and businesses in the downtown core after 10 years of a Projet government, a tramway network will have been built, and a new Maritime Gateway neighbourhood will have been developed on St-Helen’s Island.

Marcel Côté, Coalition Montréal

Economist Marcel Côté said Montreal will be a city that “defines what is modernity, defines what is well-being” by 2023 if he is elected mayor. He said the city would stay a “francophone city” that would nevertheless remain open-minded and multicultural, as well as become a university city that attracts twice as many students from abroad as it currently does. After 10 years of his administration, Montreal would be a more beautiful and better-managed city, he said.

Denis Coderre, Équipe Denis Coderre pour Montréal

Denis Coderre, a former Member of Parliament for the Montreal riding of Bourassa, promised an “intelligent” city where citizens would have access to various city services on the Internet. He also said he would appoint an inspector-general who would investigate allegations of corruption. In addition, Montreal will have stopped “self-flagellating” itself over corruption scandals, having regained its confidence, he said.

Coderre was dismissive of Bergeron’s plans for a tramway. “We already have a public transit system that is extraordinary, a public transit system that is accessible to all,” he said, adding that the planned extension of the metro’s blue line to Anjou would give residents in the northeastern part of the city access to the subway by 2023.

Mélanie Joly, Vrai changement pour Montréal

Lawyer Mélanie Joly, the youngest of the four frontrunners at age 34, said Montreal will have built a bus-rapid-transit system that links the east and west of the city after 10 years of her administration. She said such a BRT system would allow new neighbourhoods to be developed and help the city become the “capital of the fight against climate change.” Like some of her opponents, Joly promised to make public the data held by the city, and also said she will make Montreal greener by planting 300,000 more trees.

The Minor Candidates

Claude Blais, independent

Claude Blais said the metro’s blue line would extend to Anjou and that work will begin toward extending it to Rivière-des-Prairies–Pointe-aux-Trembles by 2023 if he is elected. He also promised better snow removal around hospitals and long-term care facilities, as well as a municipal fund to help pay for renovations to heritage buildings.

Michel Brûlé, Intégrité Montréal

Editor and writer Michel Brûlé said Montreal would no longer be the “North American capital of bike theft,” as all bicycles would be equipped with a GPS tracker, and cyclists could commute more safely, since sidewalks would be enlarged. Additionally, he promised to tackle police brutality and to reduce Montreal’s debt by eliminating wasteful spending.

“If I’m elected, in 10 years, Quebec will be its own country and French will be the common language of all Montrealers,” he added.

Clément Sauriol, independent

Independent candidate Clément Sauriol promised revitalized neighbourhoods, pleasant streetscapes, less traffic and a better sharing of the road by drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. He also spoke about the “French character” of Montreal.

“Montreal is not, and must not be, a bilingual city,” he said, adding that a bilingual Montreal would become entirely anglophone in 10 years. “We must therefore not listen to the protests of the grumpy, who are always the same, and calmly as a populace confident in itself, affirm that […] Quebec is French, end of the discussion.”

Louai Hamida, independent

Independent candidate Louai Hamida, who studied industrial engineering at Concordia from 2004 to 2009, noted that Radio-Canada journalists reporting on the event left immediately after the four frontrunners had spoken. He thanked Megaphone for allowing lesser-known candidates to speak.

“You have a lot of choices, and not just four choices as the media is presenting it,” he said. If he was elected, he said Montreal’s future would depend on what residents want for their city, since his goal would be to facilitate residents’ participation in the planning and implementation of the city’s projects. He said his vision for the future of the city includes safer bike paths and more social housing.

Kofi Sonokpon, independent

Kofi Sonokpon said it was “unacceptable” that journalists from Radio-Canada, a public broadcaster, should leave immediately after the frontrunners got to speak. He claimed that the media decided to organize a “two-speed [mayoral] race,” although a journalist from the French-language daily La Presse did indeed stay until all the candidates present at the event had the chance to speak. Sonokpon said he’d reduce poverty, though didn’t specify how he’d attempt to do that.

Joseph Young, independent

Independent candidate Joseph Young, a factory worker in Anjou who was involved in the communist movement in the 1960s, said true change comes through the mass mobilization of workers, not through elections.

If he is elected, he said he would use his mayoral position to “mobilize workers to demand a substantial increase in the minimum wage.” Although the minimum wage isn’t within the city’s jurisdiction, he tried to justify his stance by saying that thousands of Montrealers work for minimum wage and don’t have job security.

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