Montreal

Montreal secures Quebec support for part of Pink line — a tramway from downtown to Lachine

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante says she's struck a deal to go ahead with the western portion of her promised Pink line — turning over federal infrastructure money earmarked for Montreal to Quebec City's tramway project, in return for provincial support.

Mayor gives in to CAQ government's demand she turn over federal infrastructure money for Quebec City's tramway

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, right, has struck a deal with Quebec Transport Minister Chantal Rouleau, centre, and Treasury Board President Christian Dubé to help fund Quebec City's tramway project in exchange for a commitment from Quebec to support part of Plante's proposed Pink line from downtown Montreal to Lachine. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante says she's struck a deal to build the western portion of her promised Pink line, giving in to the CAQ government's demand she transfer federal infrastructure money for Quebec City's tramway in order to secure provincial support.

At a news conference also attended by Quebec Transport Minister Chantal Rouleau and Treasury Board President Christian Dubé Wednesday, Plante announced plans to build a tramway line from downtown to Lachine, in the city's west end.

In exchange, Montreal will hand over $800 million to Quebec City, to help pay for the provincial capital's proposed $3.3-billion tramway network.

"It's a winning deal for Quebec City but also for Montreal," Plante said.

The Pink line — which, when completed, is to run from Lachine through downtown to Montréal Nord in the eastern end of the island — was a key plank in the Projet Montréal platform in the 2017 municipal election.

The western portion of the Pink line will now be added to the government's ten-year Quebec Infrastructure Plan (QIP).

The government has added $5 billion to the $110-billion QIP budget for 2020 to 2030.

"We want to make this happens as quickly as possible because we feel there is momentum," said Dubé. 

The eastern portion of the Pink line is not included in the revised plan.

Plante​​​​​ said studies are underway to determine how the city can improve public transit in the city's east end.

"I've always said that, regardless of the colour or the technology, what I want to see are solutions," she said.

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante says a tramway connecting downtown to Lachine is the 'first segment of the Pink line.' 0:44

'Step in the right direction': Labeaume

The Legault government has been in negotiations with Ottawa since last October's election to come up with a way to finance the Quebec City tramway project, leading to speculation the project could be scaled back.

The federal government has transferred $5.2 billion in infrastructure funding to the province for public transit, however, nearly three quarters of that was earmarked for Montreal, because the funding is based on ridership.

That left just $400 million for Quebec City.

Plante's agreement to hand over $800 million of the money designated for Montreal to Quebec City's project was welcomed by her counterpart there, Régis Labeaume.

"I salute Valérie Plante's spectacular negotiating skills," Labeaume said in a statement, calling the deal "a step in the right direction."

Quebec City's tramway project, as envisioned here in an architectural sketch, is slated to be finished by 2026. (CBC)

No longer 'just up in the air'

The agreement with the province is also aimed at improving service on the existing Metro lines and looking at the network "as a whole," said Dubé, to connect the Blue line to the future light rail system (REM).

Funds will also be set aside to erect protective barriers on the Orange line, to prevent suicidal people from jumping in front of oncoming trains, as well as for other measures to improve flow through the Berri-UQAM Metro station, which Plante described as "congested."

The head of the STM, Montreal's public transit agency, Phillippe Schnobb, said today's announcement will allow the STM to plan ahead.

"We're talking about projects that now are funded. Before today, these projects were just in the air."

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