New coalition calls for public inquiry into Montreal light-rail project
Unions, environmental groups says LRT project overstates its environmental benefits
A coalition of unions, environmental activists and citizens groups is calling for a public inquiry into the proposed light-rail project that will link parts of downtown Montreal with the South Shore and the West Island.
The environmental benefits of the $5.5-billion project aren't likely to offset the damage that will accompany its construction, said the coalition, which is calling itself Trainsparence.
Quebec's pension fund, the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, has committed $3 billion to building the 67-kilometre light-rail network. The balance is expected to come from the federal and provincial government.
The call for a closer look at the project comes as Quebec's environmental review board, known by its French acronym BAPE, is examining what impact it will have on wildlife and wetlands.
"When we start peeling back the layers of this project we see that there is just problems upon problems," said Mathieu Vick, spokesperson for Trainsparence and a researcher with the SCFP-CUPE union.
He calls the rail project's projected greenhouse gas reductions "a drop in the bucket."
"They refuse to also include the emissions that will be increased due to urban sprawl," said Vick.
"Their choice of technology, the sky train, will take tonnes of cement to build ... It will take about 60 years for the train to recuperate those GHGs [greenhouse gases] they've emitted during the construction."
CDPQ Infra, the Caisse de dépôt subsidiary responsible for the project, says it has been working with concerned groups and municipalities to update and improve the plan.
"The project was the subject of a series of upgrades that address questions raised in recent months," wrote CDPQ Infra spokesperson Jean-Vincent Lacroix in an email to CBC.
"Today we begin the second part of the public hearing on the project. We will continue to respond transparently to the questions asked as part of this process."
The Trainsparence coalition is composed of Sierra Club Québec, Sauvons L'Anse-à-l'Orme, Option Transport Durable, Montreal Climate Coaltion and the Canadian Union of Public Employees among others.