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Cavendish expansion not included in Hippodrome-Namur master plan

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“Cavendish will happen,” promises Mayor Valérie Plante, saying that public transport must be a priority.

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The expansion of Cavendish Blvd. is not considered a priority for the rehabilitation of the Namur Hippodrome sector.

Montreal unveiled its master plan for the abandoned racecourse on Friday morning. It envisages up to 20,000 new residential units – half of them on the 46 hectare former race track. The district will also have schools, a library, health facilities, a public square and an outdoor marketplace. The vision for Hippodrome-Namur also envisages village-like developments, where residential units are connected to logistics centers and underground parking spaces are reserved for residents. About half of the neighborhood would be reserved for affordable and social housing units.

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What is surprising, however, is that after presenting a project to connect Cavendish in Côte-St-Luc to the sector, there is no talk of an extension. The continuation of Cavendish was seen as an important link for those already living in Côte-St-Luc and Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, giving them easier access to Namur metro station.

Connections to other parts of the city were strategically left out of the master plan. Instead, the main access to the new district will be Jean-Talon Street, which will be transformed into an urban mobility hub. The city is planning a tram along this road, connecting to Namur station and running to the planned Canora REM station, as well as future stations along the metro's Blue Line extension towards Anjou.

Jean-Talon will be transformed into a Réseau Express Vélo, where protected cycle paths will be created along the street – one of the longest on the island of Montreal.

The plan appears to only include the north end of Cavendish Blvd. which would serve as the northwestern end of the new district. Maps for the new area show that Jean-Talon St. would turn significantly north and end at a junction near Paré St. The document also points to reducing car traffic through the neighborhood by limiting connections. There is no mention in the document of a connection between both ends of Cavendish.

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Speaking to The Gazette on Thursday, Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante confirmed that the priority for Cavendish is to connect it with Jean-Talon.

“Cavendish is going to happen,” Plante said, “and there are different phases, but the first phase is: How do we move public transit forward?”

She added that the connection to Cavendish in Côte-St-Luc still needs to be negotiated with Canadian Pacific, which has a rail yard in the area.

Côte-St-Luc City Councilor Dida Berku said in an email that Côte-St-Luc's Cavendish expansion must be a priority and should be done before new housing units are built.

“Decarie/Jean Talon cannot be the only avenue,” she wrote. “We need to start on Cavendish NOW and develop the area so there is a roadbed that can accommodate a tram and bikes AND cars. People have to work. They need to be connected to the employment centers in TMR and St-Laurent and therefore create transport options to Côte-De-Liesse and Cavendish to Sud-Ouest.”

She added that the city needs to consider a north-south approach to the sector and connect it with surrounding neighborhoods.

“The dream of 20,000 housing units cannot rely solely on trams and bicycles,” she added. “You need a roadway for access. It is obvious. You need Cavendish first. You need roads to transport people, goods and supplies. To create a truly vibrant neighborhood, it must be connected to all surrounding neighborhoods and employment centers.”

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