Montreal, Canada, Valerie Plant discussed on The Current

The Current


Of Montreal Valerie Plant. She has an exclusive seat on a global task. Force here what she's doing to help cities bounce back from the virus and we'll hear from health reporter. Andre Picard making the case to go outside in the midst of the pandemic. That's ninety seconds. I'm Ed Galloway. And this is the current. Hi I'm Matt Galloway. You're listening to the current big cities across this planet have been hammered by the corona virus populated. They have crowded public transit systems packed shops and busy streets traits that have greatly contributed to mortality rates and the crippling of businesses and already leaders are weighing. How these metropolises can recover to do that. Eleven mayors from around the world have been appointed to a working group called C Forty Mares Covert Nineteen recovery taskforce. Valerie plant is the only Canadian named to that Task Force. She is the mayor of Montreal. That's the epicenter of this pandemic in Canada plant. Good Morning Good Morning why is it that Montreal is having such a hard time bringing down the number of infections a wall? Of course I'm not a specialist here but What we're seeing is that Well well the one of the reason that was brought up to us is The fact that We had our our our spring break at the beginning where For example if I compare with my my colleagues and Ontario They were able to shut down the the province and all the activities before spring break but and also we have a lot of economic and cultural activities between The city of New York and Montreal. It's very yeah we're really closely connected and so there were also a lot of case Brought in that being said. I'm not an expert but we're definitely dealing with a difficult situation with our elders as well so We're we're working really hard to To to go through this and to minimize the curve because it's It's still a big issue in Canada and especially Montreal. In the meantime people are trying to figure out what happens and when things can start to resume some sense of normality yesterday. The premiere of your province Francois Ago announced the reopening of businesses in Montreal would be delayed by a week to the eighteenth of May have listened to why he thought that's the right decision. We want to reopen stores in Montreal. But we know that if we reopen and when will reopen stores will probably have more cases in our UH spitaels so right now distribution is under control with the we It's manage with the number of people that we have right now continuing to stay at home but if we open a bit we need to have a margin and we don't see this margin today. Tolerate plant is delaying reopening the right decision. Oh yeah absolutely. Oh reopening or delaying delaying the reopen. So for me. The fact that we There's an extra week Absolutely makes sense Here in Montreal though like the premier said the the situation is under control but it's fragile and for me Even though I'm you know like everybody else we we're looking for opening some economic sectors but it cannot be done Over publix had the population's health and so whatever time is needed. I'm totally willing to wait. How much pressure are you under to Reopen Society? It just wonder whether you're population is willing to stay patient. Well that is a very good question. I think that we can see There's a lot of people would say especially parents and elders. That are Really preoccupied by Sorry by opening schools and opening some economic sectors where for businesses and and people that are having a struggling right now. Of course. They're they're they`re. They're interested into opening their businesses. But so it is. It is a balanced to find and for me what is important just to definitely follow the public health authorities and and I will. That's been my number one priority since the beginning and I will continue to do so so if there's any chances that you know it's not a good idea to reopen Some sectors and Michelle. I will be the first to say. Let's wait you mentioned schools. The elementary schools in Montreal are set to open on the nineteenth of May according to this provincial directive. If your children were elementary school age would you send them back to school now? I think that I would. I'm not sure I would. I would do it right the beginning. Because there's huge challenges right now around like Finding their the the the right number of people because we need to double and triple the number of Schoolteachers and And Guardian as well because the classes will be smaller so I would probably wait a while but I can definitely see the impact. The psychological impact on on on kids and I can talk about my kids of not having the possibility socialize but again many of those question I think the premier would be in such a better position than me to explain because those decisions were made by the National Public Health Authorities and the government of Quebec but again We will follow the recommendation being put in place by public authorities. We've spoken with parents and we've spoken with with educators as well and there's a real sense of anxiety around the idea of of the timing of this and people again I I understand that they are desperate to get back to normal but they wonder whether this is too soon if there are hundreds of new cases in the province every day. A thousand cases This past weekend whether this sort of stuff is just premature. We just need to wait. Well I'm at the same place as you I'm I'm the UH being the mayor of the biggest city in March and in Quebec I do receive a lot of messages. Actually where the only level of governmen that still answers through emails and and social media all the questions so I'm getting tons and tons of question and we're trying to be reassured Reassuring to everybody having the knowledge and you know following the orders that are coming from above us but at the same time The fact that the everything is being decided Through the public health authorities to me is reassuring. This is where we are trying to put everything together as a city because the moment we reopened some sectors in schools it also means that we need to work on the The social another social space but were public spaces streets sidewalks intersection to make sure that we can keep the social the the sensing. That'd be so important right now. You've talked about keeping parks open and you've said that it's important for people in Montreal to keep an open mind that there are many people in this city who don't have a backyard. They don't have a balcony and so you have kept parks open. Tell me more about that. And why you've done that why you've created more space on the streets in the plateau for example so that people can be out and not have to worry about being close to each other so since the beginning almost at the beginning we we did decided to keep the park open though I have to say. We close the dogs parks or playgrounds for kids. Like all the places that the dissension Between the social thing is to keep and so because we're a big city we realize that even though people making lots of efforts to keep the two meters while they're going for the grocery store the pharmacy or just taking bit of fresh air. They're having trouble to to keep the distance. So while the parks are being are still we also started to create a sanitary corridors in some of the business treats so if you go to the grocery store and you're waiting in line then there's more space we've taking a parking space out of those treats To Really Support the Social distancing and now. We're moving a bit more. Were moving forward with creating what we call family and active treats which are shared streets where those are local ones local streets where It's your equal. Let's put it this way. Whatever you're driving your car for local reasons or your pedestrian they're a cyclist everybody's equal on those streets. And so we're going to be creating a lot of those in the coming days and weeks to really support at the social distancing. That is very important. Do you see this as an opportunity. You use the phrase your equal when it's which is interesting in terms of whether you're walking or riding a bike or driving a car. Do you see this as an opportunity to rethink. What our streets. Inner cities could look like after. This is done Yeah and I think that a lot of people have realized how much space cars are taking. And I'm not judging you that the use of cars and and it that's not the point but people are realizing that when you're walking in the city you have very limited space comparing two cars and so I find a great time to show what will be possible so even downtown and in many areas that many borrows will be closing streets to do full pedestrians area especially on the commercial streets. And we'll be creating big corridors. We will be taking some space out of the for the cars to give more space for cyclists. So I think it's an opportunity and we'll see how it goes. There's less cars writing right now and But I think it's time to to rethink of how we share. We share the public Public space outside. This is a health crisis. It's also a financial crisis and it's a financial crisis for cities across this country and around the world. How badly hit will the economy of of Montreal be out of this? It's huge it's huge and we're trying to just stay positive and we're trying to put all the efforts to keep the the budget Balanced because in we have a responsibility at the municipal level. You need to have a balanced budget It's the only order of government where you cannot have a deficit and so we're right right now. We're challenging with. How are we going to keep our employees as much as possible in much? Twenty eight Taliban people working for the city throughout the boroughs. And it's also. How do we keep on giving The services that people needs So and and the fact that in cities we depend on the On the tax we impose every year on on houses. It's quite limited. We don't have lots of sources of revenue so it is very tricky problem and especially in big cities where there's a transportation system to support. We have lost a lot of people like they're not taking it so a lot of revenues as well so we've been asking the big cities Canada been asking the government of the federal government to support. It's up to about ten millions and it would be based on the population but also on the The number of How could I say the ridership That would definitely support big cities Montreal Toronto Vancouver and all the big city. This is a global crisis and as I mentioned. You're the only Canadian on this International Task Force of mayors looking at how we get out of this..

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