Despite major developments in public transit and sustainable living, urban sprawl continues to be a problem in the metro area and it's having a significant impact on both Montreal traffic and the environment. Sprawl, defined as the "the rapid expansion of the geographic extent of cities and towns," often "leads to the destruction of wildlife habitat and to the fragmentation of remaining natural areas," according to the Encyclopedia Britannica.

In a report published on January 6, the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal (CMM) specifically blames the continued construction of "space-intensive" single-family homes in the region for what it calls "the expansion of urbanization and the disappearance of farmland or natural environments."

As a result of migration to Montreal suburbs, more people are commuting into the city, exacerbating already-congested commutes. 

"Commuting from the CMM's borders is on the rise, with 100,000 commuters from the municipalities bordering Greater Montréal coming to work in the metropolitan area every day, 94% of whom use the automobile almost exclusively as a mode of transportation," the report states.

"Nearly 30 of these municipalities now have a commuting rate to the CMM of more than 40%, including 10 municipalities with a commuting rate of more than 50%."

CMM

This report comes after a separate study by the CMM showed that the number of cars in Montreal is growing faster than the population.

According to the latest published data from the CMM (from 2016), over 1.2 million people in the greater Montreal area use cars to get to work.

Just over 415,700 commuters, meanwhile, use public transit.

Mayor Plante commented on the issue in a tweet that read "As President of the @CMM_info, I am greatly concerned by this study on urban sprawl. That can not continue. We need to review the paradigm and offer public transit options to the people of Greater Montreal."

Whether the completion of the Réseau Express Métropolitain (REM) relieves the commuting situation will likely determine the direction of planning initiatives in the next decade.

The new rapid transit line, which will provide metro-level service between the West Island, downtown, South and North Shores, is expected to transform commuting habits for residents along its path.

The complete report on Montreal area sprawl is available on the CMM website here.

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