- Municipal Council
Mount Royal, December 12, 2018 – The two-year railway closure provides a unique, historic opportunity to carry out an innovative sustainable development project in Mount Royal with the implementation of the REM.
The Town is proposing a vision to the CDPQ Infra that complies with the Quebec government’s sustainable development policy and that would result in the transformation of the railway, which traverses a residential zone, into an immense multipurpose green space with an improved public square that redefines the urban landscape. It will both improve the quality of life and safety of Townies and provide better services to REM users.
The municipal vision presented today by the mayor of the Town of Mount Royal, Philippe Roy, was designed by internationally renowned Canadian architect Robert Thibodeau.
“Sustainable development is about more than just implementing an electrified aboveground metro service with high train frequency,” explained Mayor Roy. “It is also important to think about urban development for current and future generations. In this regard, the current REM project misses the mark. This is why our social acceptance of the project has vanished.”
Mayor Roy pointed out that the Town of Mount Royal has been planning to cover the railway—which splits its territory in two—for several years. The CDPQ was notified of this when the REM was announced.
“It is our duty as public managers to maintain the health and safety of our communities,” added Mayor Roy. “The Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec has the same obligations when developing urban, metropolitan transportation infrastructure. We are lucky to still have time to act to prevent serious, unnecessary errors that will cost a fortune to correct later on.”
As planned by CPDQ Infra, this high-frequency service of 550 trains per day in an inhabited residential area will destroy the environment, undermine quality of life, generate visual, noise, and air pollution, and put hundreds of schoolchildren at risk in Mount Royal. These are all issues included in and protected by the Quebec government’s sustainable development policy.
Since the rail corridor will be closed for two years starting in 2020, there is still time to make the necessary changes to cover the short 1.8-kilometre stretch from the Mount Royal Tunnel to the Metropolitan Highway (Trans-Canada Highway A-40).
“There is a fundamental conceptual error in the current project,” continued the Mayor. “Imposing the daily transit of 550 trains in an inhabited area is unacceptable, no matter the area. We are the only inhabited sector in the entire REM network that will experience this much traffic. And contrary to the study commissioned by the CDPQ about burying rail lines, it is not simply a matter of digging 15 metres. Our experts have shown that the excavations are limited to three half-kilometre sections and range between 2, 4, and 6 metres.”
“As policy-makers and administrators, we have a unique, historic opportunity to properly carry out the REM project. We do not have the luxury or the right to let this opportunity to repair a serious design flaw in the project slip through our fingers, which is why we are proposing a solution that fully complies with all parameters of sustainable development and urban planning,” Mayor Roy concluded.
A Promising Vision for the Future: Transforming a Railway into a Community Space
Moving the Mont-Royal station slightly further north, building a public square with activities, restaurants, and coffee shops for residents and REM users, and developing a large multipurpose park in the heart of the Town would bring together the neighbourhoods and enhance the urban fabric in the spirit of sustainable development.
This is the municipal vision that the mayor of the Town of Mount Royal, Philippe Roy, presented today for implementing the Réseau express métropolitain (REM) in his community. This vision of development by covering the rail corridor was commissioned by the administration to demonstrate that the implementation of the REM could hold promise for the future, instead of destroying the living environment.
With three short excavation zones along the tracks, which will be closed for two years beginning in 2020, the station could be repositioned slightly further north of Graham Boulevard in order to build the station square, which would be directly connected to Connaught Park. The square would be home to kiosks, coffee shops, and restaurants that would serve both residents and REM users.
Covering the railway north of the station up to the Metropolitan Highway would allow for the development of a multipurpose park, thereby guaranteeing safe passage for about 700 schoolchildren in the morning and afternoon and eliminating the dangerous barrier created by the railway tracks in an inhabited residential area.
To the south, the urban landscape can be brought together while respecting neighbouring buildings, allowing for residential and commercial urban densification and maintaining harmony with the transit-oriented development (TOD) model. CDPQ Infra could also obtain significant financial royalties, as set out in its business plan for the REM.