• John Jantak

Regional mayors welcome news of dedicated light-rail commuter line


PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

Commuters at the Pincourt/Terrasse-Vaudreuil AMT station. Vaudreuil-Dorion Mayor Guy Pilon welcomed the news that a new dedicated electric light-rail system will extend into Ste. Anne de Bellevue, saying it will benefit area commuters when it becomes operational in 2020.

The announcement last Friday, April 22, that a long-awaited commuter rail project into the West Island will finally be realized and become operational by 2020 was welcome news for the region’s mayors.

Ste. Anne de Bellevue Mayor Paola Hawa said the $5.5 billion electric light-rail project proposed by the Caisse de Dépôt et placement du Québec that will extend into her community will provide a much needed boost to its developing commercial and light industrial sectors and provide easier access for commuters who travel to the airport and downtown core.

“I am thrilled to bits,” Hawa told Your Local Journal. “All the merit goes to (Baie d’Urfé) Mayor Maria Tutino and especially (Train de l’Ouest advocate) Clifford Lincoln. It’s their hard work, perseverance and keeping their noses to the grindstone that finally made this project possible. They never gave up even though there were many moments when they could have, but they kept pushing and pushing.

“It’s not that the rest of the West Island mayors weren’t involved – they’re the ones that led the entire initiative and thank goodness they did,” Hawa added. “Even though it’s not exactly what the Train de l’Ouest wanted, I couldn’t be more pleased with the way it turned out. This is the best news the West Island has had in at least the past decade.”

For Tutino, who has been advocating for a dedicated commuter rail line for the past 10 years after first becoming mayor, the announcement will help the town to being expanding its industrial core. She also thanked all the regional mayors for their continuous unwavering support that made last Friday’s announcement possible.

“Baie d’Urfé is a net importer of labour,” said Tutino. “Our industrial sector has companies that employ over 4,500 people which is more than the number of adults who live in our town. Many companies have to hire a private shuttle service to bring their employees to work which is ridiculous. This will help to solve that problem.”

Long-time Train de l’Ouest advocate Clifford Lincoln also welcomed the announcement. “I’m very pleased. It has been a long time coming. We’ve been clamouring for good service to the West Island for years and now we have a visionary project which will give us many trains 20 hours a day and a frequent and reliable service.

“It’ll be extremely beneficial to us,” Lincoln added. “We have the highest rate of car use of any area on the Island of Montreal, and significantly higher than in areas which have metro service. So we’ll be able to take a large number of cars off the road. It’s been estimated that it will be like planting a forest the size of Mount Royal in terms of the amount of carbon emissions that will be reduced, about 16,000 tons.”

Lincoln said that the new commuter line could also spawn additional economic spin-offs in the region as happened in Vancouver during the 2010 winter Olympics when a new commuter rail line was built to shuttle visitors to different sport venues. Since then about 15 other projects were built in close proximity to the rail line because of the transportation links available for employees.

While there are no immediate plans to expand the new rail service into off-island communities, Lincoln said an eventual future expansion will be done as part of a second phase. Until then, regular commuter train service will still be provided to off-island residents.

“We’ve always said to the people living in the off-island communities that it would be done in phases,” said Lincoln. “It’s impossible to do it at once because of the bridges. The cost would be enormous. Eventually, the bridges will have to updated and upgraded. At that time we certainly envisage a second phase where Vaudreuil and Hudson will be serviced.”

Vaudreuil-Dorion Mayor Guy Pilon welcomed the news of the dedicated commuter rail line saying it will benefit commuters in the area because of its close proximity to Ste. Anne. Residents in the area currently rely on the commuter service provide by the Agence métropolitaine de Transport (AMT).

Pilon agreed with Lincoln’s assessment that it’s not the time to expand the rail service into Vaudreuil-Soulanges because of the cost involved in preparing the infrastructure including the possibility of building a dedicated commuter rail bridge over Lake of Two Mountains.

“I don’t want it here soon just for one reason – money,” said Pilon. “It will be very easy to bring people to Ste. Anne with the new project. We have to be realistic about the cost. It’s better like this for now.”

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