Eastern REM and third link: same fight, according to PSPP

REM de l’Est and third link: same fight, according to PSPP

We will still have to wait before boarding the REM.

“In all the turmoil of the third link in Quebec, the CAQ takes the opportunity to do the same thing to the people of eastern Montreal,” judge the leader of the Parti Québécois, Paul St-Pierre Plamondon. He was reacting to the announcement of the postponement of the tabling of the final plan for the REM de l'Est by the Minister of Transport and Sustainable Mobility, Geneviève Guilbault.

This “final version” should therefore be tabled at the end of the government's mandate, before the elections in 2026, reported La Gazette. “The similarities are striking” with the approach that the Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ) would have had regarding the third link, accuses Mr. St-Pierre Plamondon. He says he recognizes a “pattern” in the political party in power.

According to him, the CAQ seems to want to “take advantage” of the start of the mandate to “discuss everything [that it] did not intend to respect”, then wish that “people do not remember it in four years”.

Another solemn commitment that will not take place under the CAQ is that of the Eastern REM.

Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, leader of the Parti québécois and deputy for Camille-Laurin

The project was first proposed by a subsidiary of the Caisse de depot. It was to connect the east and northeast of the island to the city center. Many debates and controversies ensued until the REM de l’Est project started almost from scratch a year ago, without the Caisse de dépôt. Last January, the debates concerning its route were still talking and questions still hovered about the lack of “social acceptability” of the project.

Today, the East Structuring Project (PSE) working group is leading the project. It is made up of the Ministère des Transports et de la Mobilité durable, the Société de transport de Montréal and the City of Montreal, and is managed by the Autorité régionale de transport métropolitain.

The leader of the PQ deplores that the project has “engulfed $100 million”, paid by public funds, in studies of the project which would be “perfectly useless” today. In fact, the government reimbursed nearly $100 million to offset the costs of the studies carried out by CDPQ Infra – the Caisse de dépôt subsidiary initially responsible for the project. In exchange, the latter agreed to hand over all the studies carried out to the government.

“All this to tell us: “We swear to you, there will be a structuring public transport project that responds to your expectations. Give us this next mandate and you will see it”, believes Paul St-Pierre Plamondon. He maintains that the CAQ treats the people of Quebec as “election merchandise”.

Worthless commitments?

Whatever opinion one has of the third link , or even the REM, “the CAQ's commitment no longer has any value” for him, in light of the government's backtracking on the third link. He “tells the people what they want to hear, knowing very well that it's not going to happen”, judges the deputy for the riding of Camille-Laurin.

He recalls that the CAQ MP for Pointe-aux-Trembles, Chantal Rouleau, called the REM de l'Est a “signature project” of her party.

He also criticizes the Minister of Transport and Sustainable Mobility for having made this announcement in the wake of the third link, “while people are looking elsewhere”. Ms. Guilbault mentioned the postponement of the tabling of the final plan on April 24, during the Strategic Forum on Transportation of the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal (CCMM).

Last January, the PSE working group produced a preliminary report in which the light rail project included Rivière-des-Prairies, but not downtown. In this report, it also became official that there would be no aerial train in the Mercier-Est sector. The new version of the project could also serve other regions: Laval and Lanaudière.

The CCMM is one of the actors asking that the REM from the East go to the city center.

This, in concrete terms, it means that there will be nothing tangible in eight years of CAQ governance. It will not have progressed.

Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, leader of the Parti Québécois and deputy for Camille-Laurin

He admits that he cannot help noticing that the CAQ has carried out “two elections and six years of solemn declaration on the basis of nothing. What does that say about the sincerity and rigor of this government? he wonders. The leader of the PQ also recalls that his party has always called for a public transport project linked to the tramway.

He is also critical of what he describes as “false excuses” on the part of of the CAQ. She said she changed her mind about the third link, arguing that traffic data had changed as a result of the pandemic. “However, the study they filed on Friday indicates in black and white that the fluctuations in traffic linked to the pandemic are not linked. They should not affect the decision whether or not to build a third highway link,” said Mr. St-Pierre Plamondon.

When questioned about this at the CCMM's Strategic Forum on Transportation, Geneviève Guilbault assured that it’s sure, sure, sure” that the Eastern REM would see the day.

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