Montreal Light Rail Transit a go – up to 15 expropriated homes
Montreal Light Rail Transit – Last May, Quebec Transport Minister Laurent Lessard introduced a bill that would allow the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec to speed up the process for the construction of the Light Rail Transit (LRT) project – a bill that would force the expropriation of land and prevent property owners from contesting it. Due to the summer break the bill was not officially put through.
As many as 163 properties would have to be expropriated, 15 of them being homes.
On Wednesday September 27th, Bill 137 was quietly put forth and adopted, regardless of much criticism and the call to study the proposal further. Even in despite of a report published in January by the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE), raising serious concerns about potential environmental consequences of the project – Premier Philippe Couillard and Mayor Denis Coderre both announced it would still go ahead. Unfortunately, it is one political promise they kept.
Last May, the provincial minister of municipal affairs and land occupancy, Martin Coiteux, was cited as saying ‘that if people were allowed to contest their expropriations, that could mean cases being entangled in court for months or even years, in turn delaying the project… it’s about speeding up the process so that we can realize that project in a time horizon which is reasonable… the possibility to dispute is withdrawn and the work has to start in the fall in order for the project to be completed by 2020.’
Nicolas Marceau, the Parti Quebecois’ finance critic, had said that people will have no chance to contest losing their homes and that Bill 137 is a ‘legal bulldozer’.
Linking a good part of the Greater Montreal area, the 67km system would connect the areas of downtown Montreal, the South Shore, West Island, North Shore and Trudeau airport – with hopes of alleviating congestion in the Metro system. But many feel it would do very little and the part of the project linking the Trudeau airport, West Island and Deux-Montagnes area is a waste of money as it would cut in to existing train service – and ridership would not go up with the LRT system, as it would just be diverting riders from AMT trains. Instead, the money might be better spent improving the train lines along the route, which in turn would provide better and faster service for commuters.
The estimated cost for the project was $6 billion – up from the original $5.5 billion first announced. The Caisse de Dépôt was committed to financing $3 billion, with another ‘conditional’ $2.5 billion needed from the financial participation of both the federal and provincial governments – for a total of $5.5 billion then. In Quebec’s budget announced on March 28th, they committed to investing $1.3 billion in the project and ‘several hundred millions for related work’ – while the federal government has also promised $1.28 billion in funding.
At this point one cannot help but question why the government is in such a rush, and not taking the required time needed for a project of this magnitude in order to review the report by BAPE and other professionals – but more importantly, the concerns of its citizens.
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