In 2002 the PQ government wanted to eliminate these towns because many had anglophone majorities which qualified them for bilingual status, something the separatists abhorred. The PQ government hatched a plan to eliminate these towns by forcing them to merge with Montreal, thus bringing the anglophone component down below the threshold required for bilingual status.
When the Liberal government of Jean Charest came to power it did so on an election plank which would allow the former towns the right to de-merge through referenda held in each former town if they so desired.
The towns didn't get off scot-free, they were forced to continue to live with the elimination of their police and fire services and instead, over-pay Montreal for inferior service. The towns were also required to continue to contribute taxes to Montreal as a forced tribute.
But the towns of Westmount, Mount-Royal, Hampstead and Cote Saint-Luc are smack dab in the middle of the island, occupying prime real-estate. Westmount sitting on the top of the mountain with its multi-million dollar homes and the Town of Mount-Royal with its famous separation wall along L'Acadie Boulevard remain symbols of the hated English domination of the city.
While nobody in the French media will say it out loud, these bastions of English privilege remain galling, vestiges of a colonial past that just won't disappear.
And so the announcement by the Town of Mount-Royal that it will be building a massive shopping, entertainment and dining complex on its territory was bound to elicit howls of protest from anti-anglophone forces appalled that such a mega project on the island could fall outside its control and worse, shift the focus of tourists and shoppers away from downtown.
This week the City of Montreal's planning department complained with great fanfare that the project would add 30 minutes to the commute of some travelling along the derelict Metropolitan Boulevard, a monument to Quebec transportation and construction incompetence.
The traffic study offered by the city is so flawed that it begs the questions as to whether it was serious in the first place, or a propaganda tool meant to throw cold water on the project.
The city claims that up to 70,000 cars will travel to and from the mall each day, this with announced parking facilities of just 8,000 places.
Where will these supposed cars park?
The study forecasted up to 140,000 will visit the mall each day, half arriving by bus and metro, the other half by car. This number is wildly optimistic considering that the West Edmonton Mall which is about two and a half times bigger receives between 90,000 and 200,000 visitors per day.
The study does not consider that most mall traffic occurs on the weekend when fewer commuters are travelling to work.
A reasonable assumption is that the mall when completed will attract about 40,000 visitors during the week and about double on the weekend.
Of the 40,000 daily visitors during the week, half will arrive by public transport and the other half by car (according to the study itself) thus leaving 20,000 visitors arriving by car. Calculating one and a half persons per car, it means 13,500 additional car visits per weekday a figure half of what the study indicated.
The study also fails to consider that the mall only opens after the morning rush hour. The hours between 4 o'clock and 7 o'clock (the evening rush hour) are the quietest shopping hours of the day, as any retailer can attest. Evening shopping starts picking up after 7 o'clock.
The rush-hour bogeyman put forth by the study is a crock.
It's not surprising the mall owners disputed the figures vehemently, but it is strange that no media outlet bothered challenging the city's math.
At any rate, the TMR project known as Royalmount is a complete and utter threat to Montreal's perceived image as a French only city. The mega centre is located in an officially bilingual town, meaning all signage can be posted bilingually. Bonjour/ Hi will reign supreme and since the mall will become a tourist attraction, it will serve as a not-so-gentle reminder to tourists that Montreal is indeed a bilingual city.
Not a situation that nationalists can abide by.
And so the attacks on the project begin, with all sorts of reasons being put forward to thwart the projected mall.
Luc Ferandez who reigns as mayor over the hipster Plateau-Mont-Royal borough is raging against the project claiming that it will turn Montreal into a shopping mecca like Dubai, an unacceptable situation.
While complaints about the project are couched in false arguments, leave it to the readers of the Journal de Montreal to complain in the comments section about the English nature of the project.
"Oufff...qu'il commence donc par lui donner un nom Français ! Loi 101 où es- tu ?"Yes, the hidden contempt and jealousy for any Anglo success is palpable.
"How about starting by giving the project French name. Where is Bill 101?"
Royalmount? Pourquoi un nom en anglais? Montréal est en train de redevenir cette metropole anglaise du début du 20ieme siècle..
"Royalmount? Why an English name? Montreal is returning to the English city of the early 20th century"
Bien oui, merci à Jean Charest et ses défusions: c'est ça avoir de la vision pour le Québec et sa métropole.
"Yes sir, thanks to Jean Charest and his de-mergers: that is the vision for Quebec and its metropolis."
In a snarky opinion piece in HuffpostQuebec that dripped with venom, a contributor rained down contempt for the project as well as the English communities of Hampstead and Cote Saint-Luc.
Pascal Henrard described leaving the lovely and peaceful environs of his native Plateau Mont-Royal on a bicycle trip to visit the new location of the Royalmount project. He described his bike ride as a Montreal dream until he arrived at the hateful town limits of Hampstead where shiny SUV eyesores littered streets that seemed to lead nowhere and where rude drivers and residents who never seemed to have seen a cyclist before, honked at him incessantly.
Attempting to cross over to the Royalmount property in TMR via Cavendish (I assume from his description of the four-lane street)) he was dismayed to find the way blocked by railway tracks that conveniently, according to him, separated the rich from the poor, notwithstanding that nobody, rich or poor, really lives on the other side of the tracks.
The only thing he missed and failed to assail was the one-word 'STOP' signs in Hampstead that Bill 101ers abhor. I can only assume he missed this insulting travesty because, well, cyclists are blind to stop signs.
So expect anglophobic opposition to the project to ramp up, with all sorts of excuses offered as to why the project should be stymied.
Expect pressure to be exerted on the Provincial government which is the only government that can effectively slow or stymie the project. Towns and cities are 100% under its purview, but given the advanced stage of the project, with hundreds of millions committed and with demolition already underway, there is little to be done without incurring a huge legal liability.
So to my fulminating anglophobe foils all I can say is that you seemed to be checkmated by events or perhaps in language you can better understand, the Royalmount project just may be a fait accompli.