Experts to weigh in on REM de l’Est urban integration (Reports)

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Facing public fears that a proposed elevated train will create a scar in the urban landscape, the province has formed a committee to ensure its proper urban integration.

Canada News

Facing public fears that a proposed elevated train will create a scar in the urban landscape, the province has formed a committee to ensure its proper urban integration.

Junior transport minister Chantal Rouleau announced on Tuesday the creation of a multi-disciplinary committee that will examine the thorny issue of how to integrate the elevated rail into the downtown core.

“It will be a signature project that will be perfectly integrated into the urban landscape,” Rouleau said.

The proposed light-rail train, announced last December by the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, is to be built in the middle of René-Lévesque Blvd., and pass in front of the gate of Chinatown, before veering to Notre-Dame St. E., where it will be built on the grassy area on the north side of the street. Most of the 32-kilometre route would be on elevated rails, except for a seven-kilometre underground portion at Lacordaire Blvd. The aerial route was chosen because of the difficulty of fitting tracks and stations into dense urban settings, especially in the downtown core.

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Proposed route of the REM de l’Est
Proposed route of the REM de l’Est Photo by CDPQ Infra

In the weeks after the estimated $10-billion project was announced, the Caisse and the province, which has already endorsed the project, received public blowback about the proposed elevated rails, with fears they would block the iconic views of the St. Lawrence River, the Chinatown gate and the Old Port with ugly concrete structures akin to those being built on Montreal’s West Island. The city of Montreal passed a resolution at city hall urging the CDPQ to bury the rails for the downtown portion of the route.

On Tuesday, there was no talk about burying the rails, but Rouleau said the project wouldn’t be built without social acceptability.

“I am sensitive to the occupations that came out in the aftermath of this announcement,” Rouleau said. “It is legitimate.”

Rouleau announced a 15-member committee with seven women and eight men, presided by Maud Cohen, president of the Quebec order of engineers.

Their recommendations will be made public at the end of 2021.

This story will be updated.

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