Eiffel Ave. petition asks city to halt street narrowing project

Water infrastructure to be replaced, but parking will be eliminated

Homeowners on Eiffel Ave. in Chomedey are among the latest to rise up in protest over plans by the City of Laval to narrow their street while widening the sidewalks during a road reconstruction set to take place over the coming summer months.

For several years now, Laval has gradually been implementing a city-wide plan through which the roadbed on streets in residential sectors is narrowed, leaving less room for the movement of cars and vehicle parking, while sidewalks are widened in order to encourage pedestrian mobility.

Laval’s car culture

In a municipality like Laval, which came into being in the mid-1960s when car culture ruled – and where the city’s vast expanses were united by a system of high-speed autoroutes – officials have found it difficult to modify the citizenry’s automotive mindset.

On Webb Ave. in Chomedey just a half-kilometre from Eiffel Ave., a group of residents reacted three years ago like those on Eiffel. When the same type of changes as on Eiffel were first introduced, the Webb homeowners tabled a petition in Laval city council, demanding that the reconfiguration be significantly reversed.

Eiffel Ave. petition tabled

During Laval city council’s most recent public meeting on Tuesday May 7, it was the Eiffel Ave. residents’ turn to table a petition of their own.

According to Yota Stamatopoulos, an Eiffel Ave. resident who helped gather the petition, residents of the street received a notice in early April that major work would be taking place throughout the summer, including the replacement of sewer pipes and water mains.

“We have very serious issues with our pipes, so it was a welcome decision that they would be changing everything,” she said, noting that most people on the street complained about the quality of their drinking water, which for years was off-color coming out of the tap.

Narrow streets, wider sidewalks

In the meantime, however, the city decided (as if often the case with this type of infrastructure project) to replace the roadbeds, pavement and sidewalks. This didn’t sit at all well with the residents, considering the changes that would impact them.

“They want to expand the sidewalks on each side,” said Stamatopoulos, adding that the sidewalks would be extended to 1.8 metres in width after being 1.4 metres for decades. “That would shrink our already small street.” In addition, she said the city wants to eliminate all parking spaces on one side of the street.

“Our street is already not wide,” she continued. “I live at a part of the street where it sort of veers on an angle. So, every time recycling or garbage trucks or delivery trucks are in the area, they have trouble turning already. By narrowing the street, it will be very difficult for anybody at all to pass.”

‘this has to be revised because it just does not work’

Chomedey city councillor Aglaia Revelakis

Parking cut in half

Regarding the parking issue, Stamatopoulos said parking was already problematic when both sides of the street had parking spaces. But with half the spaces eliminated, “we’re not going to have any more place to park,” she said.

“We have homes on our street where people have two cars, because they’re many family members under one roof,” she continued. “We have a neighbor across the street with two or three children in their twenties who have cars. Down the street we have grandparents with their daughter, a single mom, living in the home. There are a lot of big families living in the area.”

According to Stamatopoulos, the petition was signed by virtually everyone on the street. But while Mayor Stéphane Boyer pledged at the May city council meeting to at least revise the measures before implementing them, there is no guarantee it won’t go ahead in spite of the objections of the Eiffel Ave. residents.

‘It just does not work,’ says Revelakis

In an interview with The Laval News, city councillor for Chomedey Aglaia Revelakis (who sits with the Action Laval opposition) acknowledged that the city listened when similar issues were raised by residents on nearby streets like Korman and Ridgewood – although almost no corrective action was taken.

“But hopefully this time around they will come out to see what can be done, because this has to be revised because it just does not work,” she said.