Quebec counting on federal budget to include Metro Blue line extension
After years of promises, people in Montreal's east end have trouble believing planned project will proceed
Montrealers may be closer than ever to riding the Metro into the east end.
The proposed extension of the Blue line got a mention in Quebec Finance Minister Carlos Leitao's budget speech on Thursday.
There was no promise of new provincial money, however, Leitao named the project as one of two key public transit infrastructure projects that the federal government is committed to help pay for.
Leitao called the Blue line extension, along with rapid transit buses for the greater Quebec City area, "critical to sustainable mobility" and a sign the government attaches great importance "to the needs of municipalities."
Public transit 'a federal priority'
The Liberal MP for Saint-Léonard-Saint-Michel, Nicola Di lorio, is optimistic there will be money for the extension in Tuesday's federal budget.
"You look at all these projects, all across the planet, there's a willingness to make them happen," Di lorio said.
"But they're gigantic projects that require massive effort from everyone involved. What I see now is that everyone is aligned."
He noted that all three levels of government — Montreal, Quebec and Ottawa — agree that extending the Blue line is a priority.
But as budget documents are top secret, Di lorio wouldn't confirm whether Ottawa's spending plan would have money for the extension. He did, however, say that climate-change reduction and public transit are priorities for the Liberal government.
How locals are reacting
Dominic Perri, a Saint-Léonard's city councillor for more than 30 years, says the extension of the Blue line would boost the local economy and help revitalize the area.
"This is very important for the economic development of Jean Talon, but also for the east end of Montreal," Perri said.
"One-third of the people in the east end don't have a car."
- In 2013, when the STM and the provincial government last announced they would extend the Blue line into the east end, it was expected to cost $250 to 300 million per kilometre.
- In 2009, former Quebec premier Jean Charest proposed extending the Blue line to Saint-Léonard and Anjou.
But years of empty promises have made some east-end residents skeptical the Blue line will ever make it east of St-Michel Boulevard.
Long-time resident Lorenzo Ciavattella told CBC News he's been waiting since the 1970s for the promised Metro extension to materialize.
"That's a long story now," Ciavattella said."It should [have been here] twenty years ago, now... where? You think it's coming?"