At issue is a proposal to run the REM de l'Est lines along rue Notre-Dame Est and boulevard René-Lévesque via an elevated track. The concerns of residents have been widely reported in the media.
Some — including, according to reports, Mayor Valérie Plante — have called for the line to run underground, instead, to minimize disruption along these corridors.
According to CDPQ Infra, however, it's not so easy.
A study (published in a February progress report) that evaluated six possible underground routes downtown identified several challenges the company called "fatal."
Current underground infrastructures like the metro and sewer lines not only pose construction challenges, CDPQ Infra found, but also serious threats to nearby structures.
In some scenarios, new underground tunnels could potentially pose a "risk of collapse" for neighbouring buildings, the study says.
According to Jean-Vincent Lacroix, communications director at CDPQ Infra, the "six underground insertion scenarios [proved] to be technically unviable in terms of physical constraints and identified critical risks."
What are the options for the future?
CDPQ Infra also studied the possibility of installing a tramway, instead, but argued in a December presentation that it wouldn't have the capacity, speed or flexibility necessary to meet the needs of riders and compete with other modes of transport.
As for next steps, the company plans to get more input from experts and the public on the design of the network.
This month, it's putting together an advisory committee whose mission "will be to make recommendations regarding the network’s architectural quality and its urban integration upstream of design," according to a February news release.
CDPQ Infra says the committee will be "made up of independent experts [...] from various fields including urban development, architecture, heritage, the arts and the business community."
"It's important to remember that the integration of the REM de l’Est must be exemplary in terms of urban integration and architecture, inspired by best practices from around the world," Lacroix said in a statement.
The company also tells MTL Blog that it plans to hold consultations between April and June with residents in communities that the REM de l'Est will cross.
When can we expect the REM de l'Est?
"Technical and environmental studies" are already underway, the news release states.
According to a timeline in the February progress report, the project will be submitted to the Bureau d'audiences publiques sur l'environnement in "early 2022."
The BAPE will then issue an "environmental decree."
CDPQ Infra aims to break ground in 2023 and begin service in 2029.*
An investment of $885 million is earmarked for a huge three-year plan called the "Transportation Electrification Strategy 2021-2023." This action plan will "prioritize measures that promote the increase and diversification of the supply of sustainable, integrated, affordable and accessible transport, being at the heart of green and inclusive economic recovery," according to a press release.
Une semaine après le rapport alarmant du GIEC sur les changements climatiques, je suis fière de présenter, en compa… https://t.co/0rYs4Hqake
In addition to nearly 1,000 paid reserved parking spaces for electric vehicle charging stations in downtown Montreal by 2025, the city will focus its efforts on "decarbonization solutions for public transport, individual transport, shared mobility and freight transport."
Most notably, the city will support the STM's plans to electrify its bus fleet and garages. Funding will also include investments for the blue line extension.
The plan will also add more than 2,100 electric BIXI bikes across all 19 boroughs.
"I am extremely proud of this new strategy, which proves once again to Montrealers that the environment is an issue that is dear to us and that we are taking concrete steps to achieve the targets we have set for ourselves, in particular carbon neutrality by 2050," said Mayor Valérie Plante.
Ensemble Montréal's Lionel Perez said in a Twitter post that "this 'promise' has no credibility"
Independent city councillor Marvin Rotrand echoed Perez's statement. "Don't be conned," he wrote. "Her promise has lots of caveats."
Why is it taking so long to get body cameras for the SPVM?
The first pilot project for body cameras in Montreal was in 2016.
In a January 2019 report, the SPVM concluded that "the experience of the project did not unequivocally demonstrate that portable cameras promote the transparency of police interventions."
The SPVM at the time also claimed that body cameras could "weaken the bond of trust between the population and the organization, or even the justice system" if, for example, police decide to withhold body camera footage of a highly publicized incident.
In a December 2020 interview with MTL Blog, Rotrand argued that "there's no political will" for the mayor's party, Projet Montréal, to move forward with body cameras.
With an election on the horizon, it's clear that body cameras will be a critical campaign issue for all parties involved.
This article's cover image is used for illustrative purposes only.