Montreal

RDP residents fed up with being 'completely ignored', demand REM station in heart of neighbourhood

The landscape of Montreal public transit is expected to be overhauled in the next decade, but residents in the east end neighbourhood of Rivière-des-Prairies say those changes won't do anything to address their need for better service.

Residents say public transit proposals have overlooked their needs for years

Residents in Rivière-des-Prairies say the Rem-de-l'Est project ignores the severe lack of public transit in the neighbourhood. (CDPQ Infra)

By 2030, the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec intends to finish construction on two light-rail networks, totalling 99 kilometres of track and 49 stations, but all of this means nothing to frustrated residents in Rivière-des-Prairies.

People who live in the east end neighbourhood say their decades-long need for better public transit options continues to be overlooked.

"I feel like we're being completely ignored," said Paul Easton, who's part of a group called Coalition REM RDP, that is pushing to have the new light rail network better serve the 58,000 residents in his neighbourhood.

"This area here is well-known for being isolated. There's no transportation that makes sense here at all."

Last December, the Caisse announced plans to start building the REM de l'Est in 2023 to serve the city's east end.

Paul Easton says he does not understand why the Point-Aux-Trembles neighbourhood is getting four REM-de-l'Est stations, but Rivière-des-Prairies is only getting one. (CBC)

The new light rail network, which would be separate from the 26-station project currently being built, includes a stop near CEGEP Marie-Victorin which is technically located in RDP, but is right on the western tip of the neighbourhood.

Easton and other residents are concerned that station would mainly serve residents in the neighbouring borough of Montréal-Nord.

The group has launched a petition calling for a REM station to be built in the heart of the neighbourhood. It's being sponsored by Marc Tanguay, the Liberal MNA who represents the area, and is available on the National Assembly's website.

The Point-Aux-Trembles neighbourhood, just east of RDP, is slated to have four stations.

"There again, it makes no sense to us, here," Easton said. 

'It's hard to get out of RDP'

For many residents, the CDPQ's latest proposal is yet another example of a public transit project that falls short of reaching RDP's population.

The Blue Line Extension, as planned, would stop in Anjou. Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante's idea of a Pink Line would end in Montréal-Nord.

Stéphanie Gauthier, who lives in Rivière-des-Prairies, launched a petition two years ago calling for better public transit in the neighbourhood. (Submitted by Stéphanie Gauthier)

Stéphanie Gauthier has spent most of her life in RDP, and says the lack of transit options can be discouraging.

"It's a good place to live. It's a good place to raise a family, but there's always the same problem when it's time to think of public transit," Gauthier said.

"It's hard to get out of RDP, to go to work, or to go to school. That's the problem."

So far, the petition has garnered more than 400 signatures.  

Gauthier launched a petition two years ago, calling for better public transit in the area, and she's worried people there have just gotten used to living in a forgotten neighbourhood.

"People signed [the other petition], and now it's hard to get them to sign it again. They're a bit frustrated because there were no results," she said. "We're still not in any plans, so people just give up."

A spokesperson for REM de l'Est told CBC it is aware of the latest petition.

"In the coming weeks, we will initiate public consultations in all communities that will be serviced by the future network to make detailed presentations of the project, to answer all questions and gather feedback," said Virginie Cousineau. 

Construction for the east end network is scheduled to wrap up in 2029.

Sneak peek inside new REM train cars

11 months ago
1:53
CBC's Jay Turnbull takes you on a guided tour of the future of transportation in Montreal. 1:53

With files from Alex Leduc

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