Heritage Montreal and business owners in Griffintown say Quebec's pension fund should take the neighbourhood's historic value into account when building its proposed light rail project.

Harvey Lev, the owner of New City Gas night club, says his property is one of 70 in Montreal and Brossard that have been put on reserve. 

"Somebody in an office took a pen and drew line to mark where the rail line would go without even looking at the sector," Lev said.

He fears the next step will be expropriation.

The Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec announced in April that it would invest $3 billion in the commuter light rail line, which would use a combination of existing and newly built tracks and stations.

A history worth saving

Heritage Montreal spokesperson Dinu Bumbaru says Griffintown's history is well-known and needs to be protected.

"This area was planned before Manhattan was planned," he said.

dinu bumbaru

Heritage Montreal spokesperson Dinu Bumbaru says Griffintown may be undergoing a lot of new construction but it also has a long history that needs preserving. (Radio-Canada)

"It's part of the cradle of the industrial revolution in Canada and of course in Montreal, as the spearhead of it."

New City Gas helped rescue a part of that heritage — an old industrial space built in 1859.

"We made proof to the lie that older buildings have no life and need to be destroyed," Lev said.

"We made proof that you can take an older building and re-purpose it and make it work very well."

Caisse seeks 'least impact possible'

Caisse spokesperson Jean-Vincent Lacroix says the plans for the rail project are only in the technical stage.

He says the Caisse is sensitive to land owners and heritage buildings.

"The intention is to have the least impact possible," Lacroix said.

With files from François Cormier