News | City councilor seeks student input on environmental issues

McGill alum Karim Boulos spoke to students Tuesday about what Montreal needs to do to make the city more green.

“We could be doing things a lot better,” he said.

Elected in 2005, Boulos is the City Councillor for the downtown district of Peter-McGill and president of the Committée Consultatif Urbain.

One student at the event was concerned about public transportation to the West Island and congested metro trains. The student noted that some days it was difficult to find space on the metro, and that while it takes 20 to 30 minutes to drive to the West Island, it can take up to two hours on public transit.

Boulos suggested creating a direct light rail train between the West Island airport and downtown and widening train cars to accommodate more people. He mentioned strides the city has taken toward environmental stainability, including filling many city bus tanks with biodiesel, and the installation of 342 new metro cars over the next 20 years – a $1.2-billion project.

Civil Engineering student, Lee Haber, asked about the deteriorating condition of Montreal roads, and wondered how to encourage drivers to leave their cars at home. Haber suggested charging residents based on their road usage, monitored with a GPS device.

Boulos was concerned with Montreal’s garbage production and encouraged composting, though he noted incorrect composting can cause rat infestations.

Boulos also explained that charging for the amount of garbage produced by households is challenging in apartment buildings, where individual accountability is minimal.

Boulos was also adamant that students should participate the electoral process. He noted that at the last election, only six per cent of voters were between the ages of 18 and 24, while almost half were over the age of 50.

“Come to Council and ask a question or lobby,” he suggested. “The solutions aren’t in a bylaw; they come from the public.”

SSMU VP External, Devin Alfaro, organized the event because he thought it was important for students to get involved and participate politically.

“Students have low turn out in elections so they want to engage more student involvement in local government,” Alfaro said.

Boulos invited students to attend his next council meeting December 2 at 7 p.m. at the Frontenac Metro Station.