• John Jantak

Train de l’Ouest coalition will keep pushing for dedicated West Island commuter line


Baie D’Urfé Mayor Maria Tutino and Train de l’Ouest coalition spokesperson Clifford Lincoln answer reporter’s questions about the proposed commuter rail line following a meeting between West Island mayors and AMT representatives on Monday, April 20.

Despite doubts beginning to emerge as to whether the much anticipated Train de l’Ouest project for the West Island will be realized now that the Agence Métropolitain de Transport (AMT) is no longer responsible for the fi le, coalition members will keep pushing to make sure the dedicated commuter rail line is built. Concerns were raised by Baie D’Urfé Mayor Maria Tutino and Train de l’Ouest coalition advocate and spokesperson Clifford Lincoln following a meeting between AMT representatives and West Island Mayors at the Holiday Inn Pointe Claire on Monday, April 20.

In a briefing to reporters following the closed door afternoon session with the mayors, AMT President and Director General Nicolas Girard told Your Local Journal the AMT was no longer directly involved in the project now that the Caisse de dépôt et placements du Québec and provincial government have taken over the dossier as of January. Girard was unable to provide any specifics about its current status except to say that both parties will provide more details after legislation is adopted at the Quebec National Assembly before the end of the current session in June.

“When it’s adopted, there will be a discussion between the AMT and Caisse de Dépot and they’ll have the responsibility to realize the project,” Girard told Your Local Journal. “It’s no longer the responsibility of the AMT to realize this project. It will be the responsibility of the Caisse de Dépot. We will provide all the information we have and they will evaluate it.” Tutino said she’s concerned that instead of having a dedicated commuter rail line that will extend to Ste. Anne de Bellevue, the project will be revamped to focus on providing a rail shuttle service from Trudeau International Airport in Dorval to downtown Montreal under the guise of the Train de l’Ouest banner.

“These two conflicting situations are still at the table and residents are saying ‘don’t solve the airport situation before you solve our situation first,’” said Tutino. “The cry from the municipalities and the citizens has been going on since 1990.” The town’s status as having one of the best industrial parks in the province is also at risk because of the lack of adequate commuter rail service which means companies are having difficulty recruiting personnel because of scheduling and inaccessibility issues, according to Tutino. “I’ve been involved in meetings with our industrial sector representatives twice a year since 2006 and was told that, despite having the best industrial park and the lowest taxes, if the transportation problem wasn’t solved to make it easier for employees to access their workplaces, the town would lose our companies,” Tutino said.

The loss of businesses would also hurt the town financially. “Our industrial sector brings in 65 per cent of our tax dollars,” said Tutino. “This is why it’s a priority for our town. I told my citizens they will have a train under my watch and I hope it actually happens. I’m still working on it.” Lincoln, who has been working for 25 years on the Train de l’Ouest, said it’s imperative that the project proceed as originally intended.

“Our concern is that this project moves forward. The airport is only concerned about its shuttle, which is a specific project. We’ve always backed the commuters and the commuter line,” he said. “The name Train de l’Ouest was chosen with purpose,” added Lincoln. “This is our brand. The airport is not the Train de l’Ouest. They might play games with it but the fact is we’re the people who started the Train de l’Ouest coalition. We gave it the name and the name is accepted now. We’re on the side of the commuters 100 per cent.”

Premier Philippe Couillard has also backed the Train de l’Ouest and the coalition will keep pushing to have the project realized, said Lincoln. “It’s a whole new ball game. We have a new player now who has a say in the project so obviously we have to convince them. Now we’ve just got to keep the government accountable,” said Lincoln. “We’re going to meet with them and make sure our case is heard and understood.”