The last time Jeremy Searle sat on Montreal’s city council was eight years ago. Gérald Tremblay was still the mayor of Montreal and Michael Applebaum was in his third year as borough mayor of Côte-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grâce.
“I think today’s council is far more encouraging than previous ones. It’s good that it’s a mixed bag,” said Searle, newly elected as an independent in the Loyola district.
Searle was city councillor for Loyola from 1994 to 2005, nine years of which he spent as an independent – a role he’s comfortable taking on again.
“The important thing about being an independent is that you can speak up and you can demand things,” he said.
“It gives me additional moral authority on council.”
If the posters bearing Searle’s name plastered around Loyola looked familiar, it’s because they were the same ones he used in 2005 when he ran for borough mayor.
“I ran because I wanted to get Applebaum out of office,” he said of his failed campaign.
This time around, he says he’s ready to support newly elected borough mayor Russell Copeman.
“As long as he plays a fair game, which I believe he will, then I’m with him 100 per cent,” he said.
“He deserves support and we want to make it work for everybody.”
A few days after being elected with 23 per cent of the vote in Loyola, Searle said he was ready to get to work.
“I have a lot of ideas for campaigns, and my campaigns are usually successful.”
On the issue of the Vendome metro station, Searle said he wants to “take back the roads from the hospital.”
“We need to reverse all of their road changes in the area,” he said.
When it comes to pedestrian safety, Searle proposes a change in the city’s crosswalks.
“Virtually every crosswalk is in the wrong place. The city put them at intersections when they need to be mid-block like everywhere else in the world,” he said. “Intersections are the most dangerous place for crosswalks.”
When it comes to metro accessibility, Searle said he’s in favour of metro stations that already have elevators but doesn’t think that it should be the strategy going forward.
“Retrofitting would be extremely expensive to do, and to do every station in the system would take 20 or 30 years,” he said.
Instead, he proposes a system of industrial chairlifts, or stairlifts, similar to the ones many disabled people equip their homes with, that would, ideally, be accessible only by swipe card so only those who need to use it can.
Searle will be joining Peter McQueen, Magda Popeanu, Marvin Rotrand and Lionel Perez as city councillors in the borough.
He was elected in front of Projet Montréal’s Christian Arsenault, who received nearly 19 per cent of the vote, and Équipe Denis Coderre’s Ruth Rosenfield, who received 17.28 per cent.
Photo : Michaël Monnier