After the Quebec government suddenly decided to withdraw funding for the REM station at Montreal’s Trudeau Airport on November 19th, the authorities at ADM (Aeroports de Montreal) found themselves in a dire situation. Already struggling with an expected financial loss of $600 million, due to a 97% reduction in passenger traffic since the pandemic began in early spring, the future of the station (one of the most fundamental of the system) was in jeopardy.
Even with work on the tunnel for the station already moving forward, Quebec’s Transport Minister, François Bonnardel said ‘the government has already invested $1.28 billion in the REM, not including $192 million for the implementation of mitigation measures, while Hydro-Quebec has also contributed $295 million… at this stage, we believe that efforts can still be made by the Montreal airport, which falls under the purview of the federal government and not of the Quebec government, in the search for a solution for the financing of this project’. It made little sense to the ADM, seeing it was clear the airport was struggling and that Quebec would benefit financially from the REM project, especially Hydro Quebec from the electrically powered transit system. However, it appears the Federal government is ready to step in and make sure that what they consider an ‘essential’ project is realized – according to La Presse, a Quebec French-language digital newspaper.
Canada’s Minister of Finance, Chrystia Freeland, is expected to make an announcement in her economic and financial update on Monday November 30th – that ‘Ottawa will advance the funds necessary for the realization of this part of the project, deemed crucial by the City of Montreal and the business community of the metropolis’ a reliable source told La Presse (translated from French) who chose to remain anonymous, as they were not authorized to speak publicly about it. ‘Mme Freeland is forced to further untie the cords of the federal grant as a result of the decision of the Legault government to withdraw the financial package, which was the subject of talks between Ottawa and Quebec in recent months to ensure the construction of this station’ they said and that ‘this project is unanimously described as essential for providing the airport with an intermodal public transport network worthy of a large North American city, like Toronto or Vancouver, among others’ and ‘the federal government will pay for the REM station at the airport… it just didn’t make sense not to do this part of the project. We are doing the REM mainly to have a quick link between the airport and downtown Montreal… it will be settled next week’.