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Interview with Pierre Fitzgibbon | “The hyphen” between Quebec and the metropolis

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Pierre Fitzgibbon, the new Minister responsible for the Metropolis, is about to make the most difficult sales pitch of his long business career: convincing Montrealers that the government they have rejected by a majority can work for them.

His selling point is first and foremost economic development – ​​another of his responsibilities in government.

Between a city concerned about social and climate issues and a provincial government particularly attentive to the economy, the minister thinks he is “the link”, he confided to The Press during his first official interview as Minister responsible for Greater Montréal.

“Perhaps the city of Montreal has not been as “economically” focused as we would have liked. Me, I bring that, ”he said last week in his office in Old Montreal.

In his toolbox, he counts his relationship with Mayor Valérie Plante.

I’m not going to say that we’re going to be a power couple, but I have a very good relationship with her. We are different, but by being different, we are complementary. And by being complementary, we will arrive more easily at a destination.

Peter Fitzgibbon

He promises to “represent Montreal well” around the Cabinet table. Even in the face of constant requests from the mayor for more provincial funding? “We do the same thing with the federal government,” he said, smirking. And I have this relationship with her to tell her: at some point, stop. The bag of money is there, there will be no more. »

“The traffic is terrible”

Pierre Fitzgibbon enters adolescence when his native Ahuntsic is suddenly connected to the city center thanks to the brand new metro, in 1967. Suddenly, “Ahuntsic was no longer a suburb”.

The same electroshock will shake the sectors near the REM in the coming months, he assured. To the point of accelerating other transport projects on the government’s drawing board.

“The REM de l’Ouest will be a catalyst to make Montreal a real city of urban mobility,” he said with the seller’s assurance in his voice. “It will allow us to have a mobilization for the blue line, perhaps the yellow line, the orange line we are talking about, the famous train from Lachine to [le centre-ville de] Montreal. »


PHOTO ALAIN ROBERGE, THE PRESS

Pierre Fitzgibbon in his office in Old Montreal

The chosen one lived in Hong Kong, where he praises the public transport system. Montreal should have taken inspiration from this example and from other cities around the world long before, he said. This great traveler before the Eternal is convinced that if he had been connected by a fast train, Mirabel airport would still be open in 2022.

“I don’t think we realize how the REM will make people aware of the extent to which mobility and public transit are becoming essential,” he says. Traffic in Montreal is terrible. »

Concerns for the Eastern REM

The Eastern REM – which Quebec and the City of Montreal took over from CDPQ Infra last May – also risks being at the heart of Pierre Fitzgibbon’s mandate as Minister responsible for the Metropolis.

He does not hide it: “It is clear that the business community is a little worried” about the absence of a direct link with the city center in the latest proposed routes.

Between a controversial aerial structure in the city center and a pharaonic underground project, François Legault preferred to put a cross on the section. “A good decision,” said the minister.

He himself is a resident of Old Montreal, having lived in the heart of downtown and on L’Île-des-Sœurs.

A connection to “the green line temporarily may suffice”, he said. “I think we can increase the capacity of the green line a little. In 15 years, 20 years, will that be enough? Probably not. But you have to start somewhere. »

The North Shore – of which he represents a part in the National Assembly as member for Terrebonne – risks seeing the REM trains arrive more quickly. “Leaving Terrebonne to go to downtown Montreal, it takes patience, he lamented. What should be done. Does the REM go there? Does the REM stop in Repentigny and we make a connection with the train de l’Est? Everything is under study. »

The East in the “catalogue”

Another major project of the new minister is precisely the east of Montreal.

“We have to do what there”, he synthesized in his direct and unadorned style. “Montréal is so successful in terms of its image internationally that being able to free up land in the east end of Montréal where there would be housing, where there would be public transit […], it will allow economic development. This image of the city of Montreal – joyful, diverse, peaceful –, he describes it as his main weapon in his canvassing in the four corners of the world.

For the East, it will not be “heavy industry, of course. It will be light industry or service”.

He admits it candidly: until now, the sector was not really in his “catalogue” of locations when he met foreign companies to convince them to invest in Quebec. “It was never on the radar really,” he admitted. Because what were we offering? A field not far from Montreal, but there was nothing else. A few minutes later, he takes a map from his file to show with the end of his pencil the degree of isolation of certain parts of the East.

The decontamination of the land, the future REM of the East and a more structuring vision of the sector will change things, he assured. “I think we’re going to start integrating the east end of Montreal into our international development plan. »



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