Only days before an Open House to promote a bike lane planned from the Forks through the French Quarter, a city official received a notice distributed by the area BIZ wanting City Hall to slam on the brakes.
In an exclusive report, Marty Gold reads their entire statement alleging that Provencher stakeholders faced a rigged public consultation process in St. Boniface. (Quel coincidence, Marty suggests.)
“Act Now to Preserve Provencher Boulevard’s Charm and Support Local Businesses”, members were told.
“The Provencher Boulevard Business Improvement Zone (BIZ) Board of Directors has serious concerns about this proposal and firmly believes that a pause in the process is necessary to allow for more comprehensive consultations with the local businesses, such as yours.”
Echoing the experience of retailers and service providers with the Moving on Marion fiasco, the statement revealed, “To date, the local businesses along Provencher Boulevard, including yours, have not been adequately consulted in the decision-making process.”
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The memo explained: “The proposed bike route raises several concerns, which we believe must be addressed before any irreversible changes are made… These changes would not only have a direct impact on the visual appeal and accessibility of Provencher Boulevard but also jeopardize the historical placement that has made it an iconic part of our community.”
Challenging the City again kow-towing to the bike lobby, the BIZ upped the ante:
“a project of this magnitude, with potential ramifications for parking availability, green spaces, and the overall boulevard aesthetics, should not proceed without ensuring the input and feedback from the very businesses that contribute to the unique character of our community.”
“Your voice matters, and together we can make a difference”, the memo stated, urging members to tell St. Boniface Councilor Matt Allard to “support a comprehensive consultation process with local businesses and urge him to explore alternative solutions, such as integrating bike lanes into side streets…”
“In line with our commitment to preserving Provencher Boulevard’s legacy, the Provencher Blvd BIZ Board of Directors proposes an alternative solution: bike lanes should be integrated into the side streets surrounding the boulevard… We firmly believe that this solution strikes a balance between promoting sustainable transportation and preserving the heritage and vitality of our local business community… Together, let’s protect our community, support local businesses, and ensure a vibrant and prosperous future for Provencher Blvd.”
9:24 – Episode 30 Part 2 – Marty was at the ‘St. Boniface to Downtown Walk Bike Project’ Open House held Thursday.
As he anticipated, City staff and consultants made several crucial plan details available to the public about the Provencher scheme, but corresponding details for the Marion concept were hidden at the Open House in March. A city official reacted to the difference in transparency between the projects, and to an official statement TGCTS received from St. Boniface Hospital that “we did not make any submission to the city on either of these projects.”
As it turns out, City officials may have misled themselves into A) thinking a group they met with represented Hospital district residents, which it does not, and B) thinking the Hospital and 400 Tache medical building were properly informed about potential negative consequences of both bike lane proposals.
The good news is, someone inside City Hall is now listening to the urgent concerns of Hospital district residents and Norwood Grove businesses.
The bad news is, it still isn’t Coun. Matt Allard- who’s now on the political hotseat, sitting on the boards of 2 BIZ groups that oppose pet projects he launched as Public Works chair.