Mercier residents fight plan for new industrial park

Residents in the Montreal's Mercier neighbourhood are gearing up to try to stop a large strip of land near their homes from being turned into an industrial park - despite what they say is a lack of support from borough mayor Réal Ménard.

Residents worry project would increase noise, air pollution, lower property values

The company Ray-mont Logistics plans to turn this 240,000 square foot swath of land into an industrial park where goods will be transported by rail and road to the Port of Montreal. (Anne-Marie Provost/Radio-Canada)

Residents in the Mercier neighbourhood are banding together to stop a company from turning a large strip of land into an industrial park despite what they say is a lack of support from their borough mayor, Réal Ménard.

The developer, Ray-mont Logistics, and the Canadian National Railway (CN) want to turn 22,300 square metres of unused land into a transportation hub where goods will be sent via rail and road to the nearby Port of Montreal.

The land is owned by the CEO of Ray-mont Logistics, Charles Raymond.

Julie Morissette lives in front of the land in question but said she didn't know anything about the proprosed development until she found out about it through CBC's French-language network, Radio-Canada.

"There will be continuous operation 24/7 with noise and everything else that comes with this kind of project," she said. "It doesn't go with the vision of the borough, the city or our vision, at least."

Morissette, who has lived in the Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve borough for 15 years, co-founded a committee to oppose the project and has since been working with other residents also concerned about the noise and potential property value losses.

Residents worry the industrial park will mean non-stop noise, more air pollution, and lower property values. (Anne-Marie Provost/Radio-Canada)

Borough wants to 'find a balance'

The borough initially planned to table an amendment to its zoning laws early this summer that would have halted the rail and road project.

The vote, however, was postponed several times after pressure from business people and the City of Montreal.

Charles Raymond also sent a formal notice to the borough.

The proposed zoning changes were later dropped by the borough mayor, Réal Ménard.

Though a new plan is set to be unveiled at September's borough council meeting, Morissette says her trust in the mayor has been broken.

"I don't believe in Mr. Ménard's good faith anymore," Morissette said. "What he said he would do, he did not do."

Ménard says he wants to find a way to take into account both a development opportunity and residents' concerns.

"I met with the citizens twice, Then, we met with all the economic development stakeholders, " Ménard said.

"If this is perceived as a setback, I regret it, but I think we should take a few weeks and write a regulation that will allow us to find a balance."

Réal Ménard, borough mayor for Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, says he wants to find a balance between a development opportunity and residents' concerns. (Tom Hanson/The Canadian Press)

Projet Montréal sides with residents

Parties in favour of the project, including CN, are expected to participate in the writing of the new regulation.

Though Ménard says consultations will take place before the motion is tabled in the fall, Montreal's opposition party has accused the borough mayor of lacking vision.

'I don't believe in Mr. Ménard's good faith anymore … What he said he would do, he did not do.'- Julie Morissette, 15-year Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve resident

Projet Montréal says it's unfortunate that citizens are not participating in the drafting of the new motion.

Morissette and her group plan to be at the council meeting Monday to make their positions known.

With files from Antoni Nerestant and Radio-Canada's Anne-Marie Provost