Mayor-elect Valerie Plante heads to City Hall
Montreal’s mayor-elect greeted the public and the press the day after her historic election.
Valerie Plante greeted commuters coming out of the Square Victoria-OACI metro station, posed for photos, shook hands, and hugged well-wishers less than 12 hours after being voted Montreal’s first female mayor.
“My 14-year-old son said, ‘Mom, do you realize you’ll be in a history book?'” she said. “Being the first female mayor will support other women to jump in.”
“I’m not even tired, to be honest, though I didn’t sleep every much,” she said “It’s such a big honour Montrealers decided to give me. I’ll take that mandate with a lot of humility.”
The new mayor-elect said she’s already had discussions with provincial authorities involved in mobility and transportation.
She said Montrealers are tired of being stuck in traffic and her first order of business is to get the city moving.
“We will be working on adding some busses on the roads of Montreal and as well we need to prepare our executive committee,” she said.
She took the time on her first day to walk through the business district to allay the fears of her critics.
“Montreal is open for business,” she said.
Among her others plans is a lot more room for bikes on roads and ensuring new condo developers set aside 20 per cent of their projects for social housing and another 20 per cent for low-cost housing.
“Families have been telling me, yes, we want to stay on the island, but we need support,” she said.
Premier Philippe Couillard said he was impressed with Plante’s campaign, calling it “a campaign with a lot of substance, but also conducted with a smile, and this is what I think people want today.”
Plante also said she plans to start speaking with Ottawa about funding for a new pink line on the metro.
She will undo Montreal’s pit bull ban and she said she’ll continue to push for the return of the Expos.
Plante spoke with outgoing mayor Denis Coderre after her victory and said she will be working with him closely during the transition.
“He offered me his total collaboration, which I do really appreciate,” she said. “Over the next coming days, we’ll take all the files, everything related to the collective convention with some of the workers of the City of Montreal, this is something coming up very soon, so we’ll be talking about that for sure.”
Plante did express some disappointment with the low level of voter turnout. Less than 42 per cent of eligible voters cast a ballot in Montreal on Sunday, down slightly from over 43 per cent in 2013.
“We’ll have to look at the different reasons why it didn’t turn out to be higher,” she said. “For sure the weather didn’t play for us, we know when it rains or snows, it’s not ideal. But I’m satisfied I won with 51 per cent” of ballots cast for mayor.
The new City Hall has 34 Projet Montreal councillors, while the opposition will consist of 25 members of Team Denis Coderre, three people from Barbe Team, two people from Team Anjou, and one Coalition Montreal councillor — Marvin Rotrand, who announced on CJAD Monday that this will be his last mandate.
After saying hello to her new constituents – including Quebec Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux – Plante walked to city hall, posing for selfies along the way.
Once there, she posed for more photos, including with a young girl named Sophie, visiting from Brazil.
“Yesterday, I was voted first woman mayor of this city,” she said. “This is where I’ll work for the next four years. We never had a woman, so maybe one day you’ll become the mayor or the prime minister as well.”
Plante then addressed the media, saying she does not expect her much-touted Pink Line to get underway in her first mandate.
“Since the beginning I’ve been clear with the timeline, the first mandate will be about all those technical points which are very, very important,” said Plante.
But her first task will be choosing her executive committee and meeting provincial leaders.
“For the next few days, for sure to set up the teams, especially around the executive committee, having those talks, setting meetings with my colleagues at the provincial level.”
Analysts believe that Plante and Projet Montreal will have their work cut out for them, especially when it comes to dealing with city employees.
“I think the two groups that were celebrating last night were the unions and the bureaucrats,” said Peter Trent, former mayor of Westmount. “If the elected officials are not careful, they’re going to be run rings around by those two groups.”
Marlene Jennings said a third group is also happy with Plante’s win: Quebec Solidaire.