Congratulations, random political party, you won yesterday’s election and have convinced Quebecers that your plan is the best one to pull us out of a morass of debt, culture of divisiveness and a public skeptical of every politician in the National Assembly. Well, the easy part – getting into power – is over. Now begins the hard part: governing. For all the rhetoric about how political parties are ‘ready’ to take over, they very rarely are. So here’s a short list of immediate priorities for the West Island and the Montreal area that we think bear paying attention to.
The Train de l’Ouest remains a top priority for locals and remains so after construction on the Dorval Circle forced the closure of a lane on Highway 20 westbound, thereby snarling traffic on one of the only stretches of local highway where traffic actually flowed, even at peak times. Now, with the price of gas on the rise, it behooves provincial Transport Ministry officials to get the ball rolling now, more than ever. Making public transit a habit for commuters will only come about when public transit is more convenient than automobile travel, and the Train de l’Ouest idea is a great way to make that happen. Dedicated commuter trains going between downtown and Vaudreuil-Dorion leaving every half hour between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. are exactly what comuters need to be convinced to leave their cars at home, thereby saving themselves some money – as the price of gas will continue to rise – and curb the amount of greenhouse-gas emissions that are choking our environment and helping contribute to global warming.
Barring that, whoever wins could decide to extend the metro to the West Island, but we’re not holding our breath on that one.
Green-space preservation is also high on our list, and in that vein, the protection of Angell Woods and the l’Anse a l’Orme corridor is also a main priority of West Islanders. We like our green space, and we like to make good use of it. Montreal’s history of protecting green space is not stellar, and some provincial protection of the sensitive flora and fauna that call those two swaths of wilderness home would go a long way toward assuaging locals’ fears.
Third, West Islanders are looking for some level of work-life balance. As a suburban community, much of our lives are spent getting around in our cars, shuttling kids to and from school, sports and other activities, and thus, every time the tax base get squeezed or services cut, we’re often the ones that suffer, and so family-friendly policies that have occupied main planks in both the Liberals’ and Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ)’s family policies have elements in them that help massage some of the stress away. The CAQ’s idea of giving parents of school-aged kids a state-sponsored five paid days off to look after children would also alleviate some of the burden faced by parents who have too little time, money or energy to do everything they’d like.