Laval infrastructure work, lengthy says Marc Demers

But city will be minimizing impact on traffic, adds Laval’s mayor

Martin C. Barry

While the City of Montreal’s Mayor Denis Coderre announced last month a timeline for extensive infrastructure and public works projects to take place over the next 10 years, Laval mayor Marc Demers says this city’s infrastructure needs are not unlike Montreal’s and will also have to be addressed during the same time period.

‘Now’s the time’

“It’s for us to plan what we want to have in the next 10 to 15 years,” he said in an interview with the Laval News during a break at a recent public event. “Now’s the time to do it and that’s what we’re doing. It means a major investment for the next few years.”

While acknowledging that Laval is a much smaller city than Montreal, Demers said that an expenditure comparable to Montreal’s in proportion to Laval’s size will have to be made “and maybe even more.

Ongoing work

“Road reconstructions hopefully we will be finished on boulevards Le Corbusier and Labelle in December, but there’s a lot of planning for the rest. But what we’re trying to do is to make sure to avoid traffic congestion all over the place.”

As well, according to Demers, the city plans to make important traffic configuration changes in the centre of Laval before Place Bell opens next year to mitigate the impact of traffic. “We will change a few things to avoid traffic jams,” he said. “We are trying to avoid traffic jams as much as possible.”

$1 billion in three years

Demers said that in the next three years the city will be spending more than $1 billion (mostly in long-terms loans) on street reconstruction and maintenance, on water and sewer upgrades, and on other basic infrastructure needs all over the island. On a 10-year basis, “we have other plans,” he added.

“One thing which is economically important, I think, is to make sure that there’s no traffic jams. As little as possible. That will encourage people to come live in Laval, it will also bring industry here. Imagine a major industry which has 30 trucks for delivery: if every time it takes half an hour more to do the same job, that’s a lot of money.”

Sewers in old neighbourhoods

Among work started or that will soon be taking place, Demers noted that the city recently completed renovations on two water filtration plants. In the meantime, there are also major problems with sewers in older neighbourhoods of Laval which he said will necessitate “major investments” on their own. And since sewer work traditionally is done with street reconstruction, the two will have to be coordinated. “There’s no use redoing a street only to come back the following year to undo everything when the sewers are repaired,” he said.

Legacy of old administration

Demers maintains that a significant factor that contributed to the poor state of the city’s infrastructure today was neglect by the former Vaillancourt administration during its last few years when the political situation at city hall was spinning out of control.

“Mayor Vaillancourt, during the last year of his administration, his head was somewhere else. But in a municipality if the policy makers can’t make decisions the administration can’t work. The political level was in a state of disarray for two or three years just before our arrival. On our arrival we rebuilt the administration and established a new structure. These are the tools we needed to work.”