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‘It’s a necessity’: West Island mayors say urban boulevard needed now more than ever

Click to play video: 'Urban boulevard could connect Kirkland, Pierrefonds-Roxboro' Urban boulevard could connect Kirkland, Pierrefonds-Roxboro
WATCH: For decades, there have been talks to build an urban boulevard in the West Island that would connect Kirkland and Pierrefonds-Roxboro. As Global's Felicia Parrillo reports, some say it's essential for when the REM train network is up and running – Feb 27, 2018

If things go as planned, the stretch of land on the RioCan Centre in Kirkland will soon look a lot different.

The Caisse de Depot has plans to build a new train station that will come with a multi-level parking lot.

However, local mayors say those plans come with traffic and congestion.

READ MORE: 2 of Montreal’s electric train stations relocated to busier West Island areas

“If you want to encourage people to take the electric train, give them the proper arteries to get there,” said Kirkland Mayor Michel Gibson.

An old plan to build an urban boulevard, which would ease congestion on busy roads like St. Charles Boulevard and Antoine Faucon has recently been resurrected.

There have been talks to build a boulevard in the area for decades, but Gibson says now more than ever is time to put those plans into action.

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“Because of the gridlock that we’ve got on St. Charles, on Henri-Daoust and Brunswick, and with the REM coming to Kirkland, it’s a necessity,” he said.

READ MORE: Montreal’s $6-billion light rail transit project has Kirkland property owners on edge

The ideal plan would have an urban boulevard on the land behind the RioCan Centre, extending to Pierrefonds, with connections to Antoine Faucon and Pierrefonds Boulevard.

A map with the potential urban boulevard. Global News

There would even be a connection that would allow drivers to go straight from the urban boulevard into the new train station.

“The urban boulevard for us has been something that we’ve talked about, we had a groundbreaking ceremony, the provincial government was on board, and now we just need to get everybody together to talk about it again before the train station gets installed,” said Pierrefonds-Roxboro borough Mayor Jim Beis.

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As for those who live nearby, they say that traffic is already bad — and it’ll only get worse.

“We definitely need another way out,” says Pierrefonds resident Ziad Bayaa. “They’ve been talking about it for a while, but it’s politics, as we all know.”

READ MORE: Montreal’s $6.3 billion light rail network finalized, expected to open in 2021

The Caisse de Depot has announced plans to break ground for the new train in April and cars to start rolling in 2021 — but the project is only expected to be completed by 2023. It’s still not clear when the West Island portion will be built.

Either way, both Kirkland and Pierrefonds mayors agree that an urban boulevard needs to be built to help alleviate traffic in the area — before the REM is finished. For that to happen, the mayors say the project needs to become a priority for both the city of Montreal and the province.

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