EMR extension talks to the east

In its desire to give a new impetus east of Montreal, the government of Francois Legault has initiated discussions with the Caisse de depot et placement du Québec (CDPQ) on the possibility of deploying a line of the Réseau express métropolitain ( REM) .

“There are discussions, but I can not speak of conclusion. We look at the options, “confirmed yesterday, in a telephone interview, the Minister Delegate for Transport and head of the city, Chantal Rouleau. According to her, the decision to formally request the Caisse and its subsidiary CDPQ Infra, responsible for the initial train project, will be known “very soon”.

In the immediate future, no formal request has been sent to CDPQ Infra, which will have, if necessary, 30 days to decide if it is launched or not in the adventure. About two years of feasibility studies would follow. The analysis for eastern Montreal would be added to those already announced for an extension of the EMN north to Mirabel and south to Chambly.

REM or tramway

The extension of the REM to the east of the island of Montreal is one of the scenarios that could be analyzed, along with the tramway project along Notre-Dame Street, put forward until now. Minister Rouleau prefers to use the more general expression of “structuring mode of transport”, thus leaving the door open to different technologies, be it a tramway or a light rail system such as the REM.

Reflection has been underway for a few weeks now, acknowledges the Minister, who insists that funding and “fair cost assessment” of such a project are at the heart of the concerns of the government team. On the CDPQ Infra side, profitability is the goal of any investment. In the immediate future, the success of the EMN’s initial project, with its 67 km of rails that will connect the South Shore, downtown, Trudeau Airport, West Island and the North Shore, remains the priority, recalled last month the president and CEO of CDPQ Infra, Macky Tall.

Chantal Rouleau said she saw a “fantastic” craze to give a second wind to Montreal’s East, in which the EMN could participate.

“There is a favorable situation. […] There is an obvious consensus for Montreal East: the Chamber of Commerce, development companies, industrialists, traders, industrial clusters and knowledge people from both the college and university level. Everyone is at the rendezvous. ”

– Chantal Rouleau, Minister Responsible for Transport

It also recalls the involvement of Mayor Valerie Plante’s administration in favor of mobility.

On 1 st March, the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Montreal wrote to Prime Minister Legault to invite them to submit a formal application to the Caisse de depot et placement that analyzes and evaluates the appropriateness of EMN deployment in East Montreal. Two weeks earlier, the Board of Directors of the House unanimously passed a resolution to this effect.

“The East should be considered. This would clearly accelerate economic development, “says House Director Christine Fréchette.

According to her, the speed of execution of the EMN site militates in favor of the extension of this mode of transport to the east. “We’re talking about deadlines that have nothing to do with what we can now including the extension of the blue line of the subway, which is counted in decades. When looking at the side of the REM is another business model that is much faster, “says Fréchette.

Carte blanche

Indeed, the construction of the EMN project is done according to the “design-build” mode, that is to say that the plans are made and specified as the project progresses. In addition, CDPQ Infra is exempt from the obligation to submit to urban planning rules and building permit applications to municipalities: CDPQ Infra is a mandatary of the State by virtue of a law granting it carte blanche. If the situation provokes discontent within the municipalities concerned – rarely expressed publicly, given a confidentiality clause – the expected result raises a lot of hope among several economic actors such as the Chamber of Commerce of the East. Montreal.

Already, last November, Minister Rouleau had demonstrated the openness to the idea of ​​implementing the EMN rather than a streetcar in the East, which was presented at a dinner conference organized by the Chamber. The President of the Angus Development Corporation, Christian Yaccarini, echoed business people to invite the newly elected government to reflect on the EMN.

The proposed extension would be in Notre-Dame Street, but also in the north, on Henri-Bourassa. One of the arguments put forward by Mr. Yaccarini was “the inequity that [the] territory has been paying for 40 years” compared to Montreal West. The EMN plans to cross the borough of Saint-Laurent with five stations, including one at the Technoparc, which will benefit from an interest in the installation of companies, Mr. Yaccarini recalled.