Montreal

Mayor Plante asks Quebec for new legislation to speed up Blue line extension

Expropriations have been on hold since the province failed to adopt its economic stimulus plan, Bill 61.

Expropriations have been on hold since the province failed to adopt its economic stimulus plan, Bill 61

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante said adopting such a law is necessary to speed up the expropriation process, and to plan redevelopment around the stations as quickly as possible.  (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante is calling on the province to table a special law so the city can continue the expropriation process and build the extension of the Metro's Blue line to Anjou, in the city's East end. 

Expropriations have been on hold since the province failed to adopt its economic stimulus plan, Bill 61.

"It's high time that the Blue Line project become a reality," Plante wrote on Twitter. "Following the failure of Bill 61, we're expecting a new bill to be tabled for the return to parliament."

Plante said a special law is needed to speed up the expropriation process and to plan redevelopment around the stations as quickly as possible. 

The proposed five-station Blue Line extension is key to improving economic and development opportunities for the city's East end.

Plante's call for a special law comes after the scrapping of Bill 61, which would have allowed the Legault government to accelerate several infrastructure projects by circumventing certain regulatory obligations. 

The government was unable to get the opposition to agree to fast-track study of the bill's details.

Since then, Treasury Board President Sonia LeBel has promised to ditch Bill 61 as it stands and to present another piece of legislation drafted in the same spirit this fall. 

Legal challenges mean delays to construction

The Société de transport de Montréal (STM) issued about 500 expropriation notices to businesses and homes along the proposed Blue Line route, about half of which could be contested, the government estimates. 

The toughest challenge comes from real estate giants Cadillac Fairview and Ivanhoé Cambridge. They filed documents in Quebec Superior Court in June asking the court to quash an expropriation notice issued by the STM in January.

The Blue Line extension would end in the Galeries d'Anjou parking lot and is slated to include a bus station and a 1,200-space park-and-ride lot on the mall's property. 

Cadillac Fairview says it wants to use the land, which it owns, to build homes, a seniors' residence, and green space.

The STM's plan must be reviewed to take into account elements that could prevent future development in Anjou, Cadillac Fairview said.

Saint-Michel Metro station is the eastern terminus of the Blue line. Extending the Metro line eastward would mean cutting through Galeries d'Anjou, a mall in the east end. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

Cadillac Fairview's project is "much more interesting than what the STM is proposing," said Anjou borough mayor Luis Miranda. 

Miranda says the STM, Cadillac Fairview and Ivanhoé Cambridge would have every interest in negotiating a mutual agreement, rather than going to court, which would be expensive and long. 

The costs of building the 5.8-kilometre extension of the Blue line are estimated at $4.5 billion, of which at least $300 million are for expropriation.

Building is expected to begin next year, and the new Blue line stations are expected to be in service by 2026. 

Based on a report by Radio-Canada

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