Quebec decided to paint the Réseau Express Métropolitain (REM) section from east to downtown Montreal, believing that social acceptance would never be achieved. This was announced by Prime Minister François Legault and Mayor Valérie Plante on Monday at Montreal City Hall. Four other route changes are evaluated.
François Legault stated that his government’s decision to abandon the downtown area caused the Caisse de depot et Placement du Québec (CDPQ) to withdraw from the project. “The Caisse has chosen not to press charges and I understand them. I expected that. We are in a situation where the removal of the downtown section has become a project that has not been profitable for the Caisse,” the Prime Minister explained.
Contracts for the project will be entrusted to the Autorité régionale de transport métropolitain (ARTM), the Ministère des Transports du Québec (MTQ), the City of Montreal and the Société de transport de Montréal (STM), who will have to analyze the file .and submit proposals make the government. A first meeting of the partners was already planned for Monday afternoon.
A REM that would go further?
If the inner-city part is removed, the orientations to the east and north will remain. “The rest of the route will be positively received,” said François Legault.
The mandate of the committee is to analyze scenarios aimed at connecting the future REM de l’Est to the metro green line, which requires an increase in the metro frequency, explained Valérie Plante. It must also explore the possibility of expanding the REM from the east to Lanaudière via its eastern branch and to Laval for its branch to Marie Victorin College. The integration of the REM in the Souligny sector in Mercier-Est also needs to be improved, argued François Legault.
Quebec intends to keep the technology developed by CDPQ Infra, but the entire financial package for the project, whose initial cost reached $10 billion, needs to be reviewed. The addition of sections to Lanaudière and Laval should increase sales, noted François Legault.
The timetable for the implementation of the project also needs to be reconsidered. “In the past there were all sorts of excuses to delay projects. People who know me know that I don’t have much patience and I want this project to be implemented as soon as possible,” said the Prime Minister. “It’s critical to the development of the east end of Montreal. »
A mistake to avoid
For Mayor Valérie Plante, the changes made to the project are a victory for the city of Montreal. “The downtown air route was a historic mistake that had to be avoided at all costs,” she argued.
For months, the city of Montreal has complained about not being present at the decision-making table. Valérie Plante entered into negotiations with the Quebec government to help design this project, which will cross Montreal territory.
Mayor Plante also believes that the proposed solution also responds to the concerns expressed about the impact of the REM on heritage preservation, particularly on Chinatown and Morgan Park in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve. “It won’t be a problem anymore,” she said.
The REM de l’Est project and its air structures in the city center had fueled controversy for months. He had been heavily criticized in particular by the ARTM. Last March, the committee of independent experts commissioned by Quebec to ensure the urban integration of the eastern REM also raised significant concerns about several elements of the project, including the aerial structures planned over Boulevard Rene-Levesque.