Time is ticking for Metro's Blue line extension to Montreal's east end
Government has land on reserve for expropriation, but reserve expires in April and is non-renewable
Time is running out for the provincial government to announce the extension of the Metro's Blue line toward Montreal's east-end boroughs of Saint-Leonard and Anjou.
Quebec has several properties on reserve for expropriation along Jean-Talon Street, between Pie-IX and des Galeries d'Anjou boulevards. The problem is the reserve expires in April — and legally, it cannot be renewed.
"We are truly going to find out in April 2018 whether this Metro goes ahead or not," said Frank Cavaleri, owner of a building at the corner of Jean-Talon and Lacordaire boulevards which houses a Pharmaprix and a medical clinic.
The government has his building on reserve while it decides whether one of the exits to the new Lacordaire station on the Blue line will be there, or in the park across the street.
Cavaleri wants to stay put.
"There's a pharmacy [here], there's a medical clinic, and there's a medical centre with doctors in it, which serves the old age population."
So Cavaleri is gathering signatures for a petition, calling for the Metro station exit to be located in the park and designed like the one in Square Victoria.
"It's a toss-up right now, but the city, the borough of Saint-Leonard is fighting the expropriation, and they're saying we don't want to put the metro in the park, because there's mature trees."
Five stops are planned as part of the extension from the corner of Pie-IX Boulevard and Jean Talon, eastbound to des Galeries d'Anjou Boulevard.
Currently, the area is served by bus route 141, which is one of the five busiest routes in the city.
CBC contacted the borough. It says it is waiting for a decision from the province.
Meanwhile, Quebec Transport Minister André Fortin would only say the extension is a priority.
"It's a project we want to see go ahead as quickly as possible, we want to see work done as quickly as possible, and we'll be able to come back to you with more details shortly," Fortin said.
Until then, Cavaleri says he's waiting to see the Blue line extended in his longtime neighbourhood, but he's not holding his breath.
"It is 32 years after and, you know, I don't think I'll be here before the Metro goes up."
With files from Sean Henry