Mayor Andre Dickens meets with Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante during the ARC LINK trip to Montreal. Photo: Ville de Montréal / Sarah Latulippe

Some 120 metro Atlanta leaders, including City of Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens, are spending this week in Montreal on a trip designed to learn best practices from a city in the midst of a major transit expansion. 

The Atlanta Regional Commission leads the trip known as LINK — Leadership Involvement Networking Knowledge — every year to give leaders perspectives on how other cities and regional governments tackle thorny problems common across North American cities, from housing affordability to urban mobility and public-private partnerships. 

While the trips normally examine other U.S. cities, this one is looking at Canada‘s second largest city and Quebec’s main economic hub as it implements a $5.1 billion transit plan. 

A metro area of 4.3 million, Montreal inaugurated a new light rail line known as the Réseau express métropolitain, or REM, at the end of July. A new bus rapid transit line started service with 28 sheltered stops along the Pie-IX Boulevard, a main east-west thoroughfare of the city,  last fall. 

The trip comes just after Mr. Dickens presided over the groundbreaking for MARTA’s first BRT line in the Summer Hill neighborhood in June. 

Montreal is also in the midst of an effort to turn the city into an electric-vehicle hub, given its abundant and cheap hydroelectricity. The city, and Quebec as a whole, have been a particularly strong adopter of EVs for fleets, many of which are manufactured in the region. That’s a response to the city’s plan to become carbon-neutral by 2050, which will require the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions of 55 percent below 1990 levels, according to the ARC.  

The ARC’s news release notes that the larger LINK delegation will break into smaller groups to visit the BRT, the Port of Montreal, an electric-vehicle innovation center and Wellington Street, a shopping district that is pedestrianized during the summer months. 

“The Montreal region is a dynamic and innovative place that provides rich opportunities for the Atlanta LINK delegation to explore solutions to the challenges that we face back home in metro Atlanta,” said Anna Roach, executive director and CEO of the Atlanta Regional Commission, in a release. “We also look forward to returning the favor and sharing some of the great things happening in Atlanta with our Canadian hosts.”

Beyond studying its climate policies and resiliency initiatives, LINK participants will also explore areas where Montreal is an innovation leader, from artificial-intelligence research to its thriving film, video games and VFX sector, which makes it both complementary and competitive with Georgia

David Weiner, Quebec’s delegate to the Southeast U.S., based in Atlanta, is traveling with the group, and wrote on LinkedIn that Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante welcomed them with an “amazing speech.” The trip is Aug. 15-18. 

“Mayor Plante highlighted Montréal’s efforts to build a more inclusive, environmentally sustainable, and liveable city,” Mr. Weiner wrote. 

In another post, he said a sit-down meeting between Ms. Plante and Mr. Dickens portended closer ties between Montreal and Atlanta. 

“Great to see the many synergies, commonalities, and opportunities emerging from meetings between civic leaders.”

David Weiner, Quebec Delegate to the SOUTheast U.S.

“Great to see the many synergies, commonalities, and opportunities emerging from meetings between civic leaders from these two great cities under the inspirational leadership of two great mayors born just three days apart. Stay tuned for more news on the beginning of a great new relationship between Atlanta and Montréal.”

See the full news release and key themes here

As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...