Eastern REM | Citizens demand other options than air mode

A hundred citizens, elected officials and activists demonstrated on Saturday in the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve district to demand “other options” than an aerial REM in the east of the metropolis, while consultations will begin Tuesday in the area.

Posted on June 5, 2021 at 12:55 p.m.

Henri Ouellette-Vézina

“An aerial mode that cuts and enclaves Hochelaga-Maisonneuve even more in relation to the river, this is not acceptable,” hammered the spokesperson for the Regroupement des residents de la rue Notre-Dame (RRRND), Patricia Clermont, in margin of the gathering at Place Simon-Valois, which culminated in Morgan Park.

The latter is threatened with losing “about forty trees” if the aerial REM goes ahead, says Mme Clermont, who deplores that “this green strip is however very frequented by everyone in the district, and was even more appreciated during the pandemic”. “In these times of climate challenge, we need more trees, not less,” said the spokesperson.

Jérôme Fournier, a resident of Hochelaga for eight years, fears that the aerial REM will create a “huge long-term scar” in the neighborhood, which “has already been damaged by the redevelopment of rue Notre-Dame”. “It would be the last nail in the coffin to ensure the devaluation of the southern sector of Hochelaga,” he said. “What I am proposing is to install the REM on rue du Port and to set up park slabs for each station, in order to make openings towards the river. Of course, it will cost more, but it is quite possible. We have the space, and the floors are solid enough to do it, ”he insists.

While it is true that ground modes can be “slower”, admits the citizen, he maintains that the Caisse must consider an approach “respectful of citizens”. In its current form, “the project will cut off our access to the river for the next 100 years”, he fears.


Jérôme Fournier, a resident of Hochelaga, and his son

Elected officials want better

Several elected officials were present at the demonstration, including the mayor of Mercier – Hochelaga-Maisonneuve (MHM), Pierre Lessard-Blais. “We already have fewer parks than elsewhere here, and there are a lot of tenants in the neighborhood. So what’s gonna happen? There are also questions for Mercier-Est, where the air passage over Sherbrooke will be less than ten meters from certain residences, ”admitted the elected official.

We are concerned, and we must pull the project up. The Caisse is expected to provide answers to citizens.

Pierre Lessard-Blais, Mayor of Mercier – Hochelaga-Maisonneuve

The provincial deputy for Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, Alexandre Leduc, also calls for a “consideration” for alternatives to the air, presented according to him as “the one and only solution”. “There is one thing that we do not take enough into account: it is the quality of life in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve. We are not just on the road between downtown and Pointe-aux-Trembles. We are a living environment. We have the right to a quality of life. Air mode literally goes scrapper the green band ”, criticizes Mr. Leduc.

“Of course, we want development in the East, but it is not because it is lacking that we are ready to accept anything either,” insists the solidarity.

The only New Democrat elected in Quebec, the federal deputy for Rosemont, Alexandre Boulerice, also says he is “worried” about the way in which the REM seems to want to develop. “We have seen the damage that this has caused with the metropolitan boulevard, in terms of urban aesthetics. It disfigured neighborhoods. We should have learned from that, and avoid these air trips as much as possible, ”he said.

Formerly Member of Parliament for the riding of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, Louise Harel also took part in the rally. “The air is a mode of transport that could be interesting if it was on the outskirts, like in Paris for example, but not in the central districts. Public transport must be integrated into the urban and local fabric, ”said the former PQ minister.


Former PQ member for the riding of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, Louise Harel

The REM of if listening

Called to react, the director of public affairs of the REM, Virginie Cousineau, assured in writing that “social acceptability is an essential component of a project as important as the Eastern REM”. “This is why we have organized an extensive public consultation process in which more than 1,000 people have participated to date. We wish the greatest number of participants for the future, ”she said.

The borough consultations were launched on May 27, in Saint-Léonard and Montreal-Nord. The Rosemont (L’Assomption axis) and Rivière-des-Prairies – Pointe-aux-Trembles sectors were also the subject of consultations in early June. After Mercier – Hochelaga-Maisonneuve on June 8, it will be Ville-Marie’s turn on June 10.

“These consultations, as well as our continuous and frequent exchanges with stakeholders and the work of the committee of independent experts for architectural integration will allow us to optimize and improve this major public transport project for the east and north. is ”, concludes Mme Cousineau.

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