I hate to be a party-pooper, but something’s missing from the recently-announced multi-million dollar deal announced a few days ago between the City of Québec and Quebecor: Transit! I read the whole spread in the Journal de Québec about the deal. There was talk about where they were going to build it, how much it was going to cost, who was going to pay for what, where, when, why and how and so forth.

Then they got on about parking. 4000 spaces were going to be allotted for parking. Whoopee! Not a single word was said about how the RTC transit commission was going to cooperate with the city, the developer and build in transit solutions for this project from the get-go. Nothing. Nada. Nyet. Zilch. Nein. Zippo. I thought we were all supposed to be falling all over ourselves and going green and hugging trees, saving fuel, saving money, the planet, the ozone layer, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, decreasing our carbon footprint, blah, blah, blah…

Apparently somebody forgot to tell our good buddies Mayor Labeaume and Pierre Karl Péladeau. What gives? There should be a whole communications strategy being plugged from day one with the RTC in on the ground floor, working hand in glove with the developers, Quebecor, and the city, to sketch in reserved bus lanes leading into the site, not to mention planning on having park and ride parking lots built on the South Shore in places like Lévis, Charny, St. Rédempteur, St. Nicolas, and so on, and to be working in partnership with the STL (Société de Transport de Lévis), as well as the municipal governments on that side of the river to have these places built.

Let’s not forget: Once this place is built, it’s going to attract people from as far away as New Brunswick, the U.S.A (a 1,5 hour drive from the border, remember?), the Beauce (30 minutes or so to Ste-Marie), the Asbestos region, the North Shore, the Gaspé, Three Rivers (1,5 hours away). The magnet effect is going to be phenomenal. We just can’t expect to funnel everybody into that relatively densely populated area around the fairgrounds all in autos. It will be Bedlam. Hamel Boulevard is only two lanes in each direction and is already overwhelmed when there is a 5-10 thousand person event at the two existing civic arenas there.

They’re now talking of building a 15-18 thousand seat facility with only 4000 parking spaces, and no increases in road infrastructure, and none really possible to make, given the space constraints, and government budget constraints, as well as growing environmental concerns about pollution. We absolutely need transit solutions. Montréal has already shown some leadership, what with parking on the South Shore at Longueil, and Metro (Subway) service under the river into downtown to get to the Bell Centre for Montréal Canadiens’ games.

We should definitely do something similar here in Québec city with buses, with reserved bus lanes on perhaps both bridges, or reserve the Québec Bridge just for buses, on game nights, and ferry all the passengers from the park and ride lots across the river into town, thereby freeing up the two bridges from potentially nightmarish traffic snarls on game nights. This could be tried out as a pilot project, and if it works, could be kept on.

Similar Park and Ride service could be put into service from the existing Park and Ride lots in the east, north and west of town (Parc-o-Bus lots, as they’re called in French), and traffic at our brand-spanking-new arena could become a lot more manageable.

Question is: Are our good buddies Messrs Labeaume and Péladeau aware of this potentially dangerous scenario, or are they actually asleep at the switch? I hate to poop-out at parties, it’s a dirty job, but somebody’s gotta do it, eh?

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