Montreal will invest $3.6 million over two years in a brand new institute dedicated to developing electric and smart transportation. This investment is part of the city’s efforts as a member of the C40, the Cities Climate Leadership Group.
The Institute of Electrification and Smart Transportation will have three main mandates: favouring cooperation between regional partners for research and development of sustainable transportation, establishing international partnerships and stimulating the commercialization of new technologies. It will be situated in the Quartier de l’innovation. The École des technologies supérieures (ÉTS) , McGill University, Concordia and UQÀM are all expected to partner in the project.
“The Institute will make use of Montreal’s assets as a city of innovation to galvanize efforts and knowledge, and shine on the international scene,” Mayor Denis Coderre claimed in a press release. The announcement was made on Wednesday, during the 52nd Congress of the Association québécoise des transports.
The Mayor’s office claims this is an “important step in the realization of [their] ambitious strategy for the electrification of transport.” Indeed, the creation of the institute is one of the 10 points of the 2016-2020 Strategy for electrification and smart transportation outlined last summer.
Other measures put forward in the plan include exchanging city vehicles for electrical cars, electrification of public transit and developing a second, purely economic plan to encourage the local development of the electric transportation sector.
However, the opposition at City Hall is not too impressed with the new institute. Projet Montréal’s transport critic Craig Sauvé says that they have seen no serious plan or content backing up the announcement.
“That’s pretty much the Coderre style,” he observed, “announce a project that will most likely garner positive headlines but without doing any substantive groundwork before the announcement.”
Although Sauvé admits that the city’s efforts for electrification are a good thing overall, he believes it is a short-sighted strategy.
“The Coderre administration is very car-focused,” he claimed, “they still have this vision that is out of the 1950’s!”
According to Sauvé, the city should put more money into better bike lanes, urban planning and public transit in order to reduce the number of cars on the road.
“You can electrify everything you want, but it won’t solve the traffic, it won’t solve the pollution still created by the production of new cars and road networks,” he argued.
FTB contacted the city’s executive committee for further comments, but was still waiting for a reply at publication time.
Mayor Coderre announced earlier this week that the city is investing at least $24 million in Formula E, a major international car race featuring only electric cars. The event will be held downtown on July 29th and 30th. The Coderre administration hopes that it will serve as publicity for electric and smart transportation in Montreal and boost the city’s status as a leader in climate action.
Back in November 2013, the government of Quebec had promised $35 million for the creation of a province-wide institute with the same purpose. Many cities were interested in hosting it. The promise did not survive the change of government.