• John Jantak

West Island mayors make Train de l’Ouest presentation in Quebec City

PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK A delegation of current and former West Island mayors and municipal councillors in support of the Train de l’Ouest meet behind Pointe-Claire city hall before boarding a bus for Quebec City to make a presentation at a National Assembly public hearing on Bill 38, an act to allow the construction of infrastructure projects by the Caisse de dépôt on Wednesday, May 13.

A delegation of current and former West Island mayors and municipal councillors made their way to Quebec City yesterday morning to press the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec to proceed with the long-awaited Train de l’Ouest project. The group presented their brief at a special Quebec National Assembly public hearing on Bill 38, an act to allow the construction of infrastructure projects by the Caisse de dépôt. Clifford Lincoln, a long-time Train de l’Ouest advocate and coalition spokesperson, said he was optimistic that the project, which would result in the construction of a dedicated commuter rail line between Ste. Anne de Bellevue and downtown Montreal, will finally be realized. “It’s very important,” Lincoln told Your Local Journal.

“This bill is a key element to get the Caisse involved and now we have to make our pitch. The fact that we were asked to appear and be heard is a signal that the Train de l’Ouest is a key player. This is very encouraging. They don’t invite you to these hearings unless you have something to say and are a part of it. This is a big turn of events for us.” Baie D’Urfé Mayor Maria Tutino announced during the Tuesday evening council meeting that she would be among the contingent of mayors at the presentation. She said the Train de l’Ouest is important for all West Island residents, and in particular, for the continued sustainability and growth of the town’s industrial park, which is an important source of tax revenue for the municipality.

“This is probably one of our most important presentations we’ll ever do in regards to the Train de l’Ouest,” said Tutino. “This project has been talked about since the 1980s. Our Achilles’ heel is public transportation. The industrial park operates on a 24-hour clock and the public transportation is beyond inadequate. And it appears to be getting worse every year. Tutino said that since 2010, this is the third trip the mayors have made to Quebec City under the Train de l’Ouest banner.

The group has now met with three Premiers, four provincial Ministers of Transport, and various Agence Métropolitaine de Transport (AMT) representatives to make representations in support of the dedicated commuter rail line. “This project is crucial for not only our citizens who live here and commute to their jobs, but also for the industrial park that have to bring personnel into our town,” said Tutino. “What many people don’t know is that we are net importers of labour.

Everybody recognizes there is a need and today’s hearing gives us great hope that the project be realized. This is extremely important for us.” Beaconsfield Mayor Georges Bourelle said the project is imperative for all the region’s municipalities. “The West Island mayors have been fighting for the Train de l’Ouest now for a very long time. We just want to make sure we end up with what we have defined as the Train de l’Ouest. We don’t want to see it modified,” said Bourelle.

Ste. Anne de Bellevue Mayor Paola Hawa said the coalition also wants to make sure that the Train de l’Ouest name is not hijacked by the Aéroports de Montréal and used to highlight their proposed light-rail service from Trudeau International Airport in Dorval to downtown Montreal. “We want to make sure that the people understand that when we say Train de l’Ouest, it means as far west as Ste. Anne de Bellevue,” said Hawa.

Hawa added that the Train de l’Ouest is also important for the continued sustainable growth of Ste. Anne. “We’re coming out with our urban plan that we want to put in place and the reality is that you cannot attract workers to the West Island without giving them a way to get here. “It’s an important economic issue, not only in terms of industrial and commercial development and for people to be able to not only get to the West Island, but to be able to travel to downtown too. It’s about time that we were adequately served. We know what the issues and challenges are and it’s time to address them. We’ve waited way too long. Persistence breaks resistance.”

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