VERDUN – Residents of May street in Verdun received notices Wednesday stating they will have to sell their houses in order for construction on the Champlain Bridge to get underway.
“I can’t begin to tell you the reaction we had,” said a teary Therese Lemay, who has lived on May Street for 32 years.
So far, 16 families have received letters telling residents their homes will have to be torn down.
“They’ve been asked to sell their homes, which is causing a number of people a bit of distress,” said Tyrone Benskin, the NDP MP for Jeanne-Le Ber.
“These are heritage homes. These are some of the first homes in Verdun.”
According to Hoang Mai, the NDP Transport Critic and MP for Brossard-Laprairie, the federal government had promised one year ago that the homes would not be touched.
“I was shocked to hear that people are getting evicted,” he said.
“Especially when I asked almost a year ago whether or not they were going to be any evictions.”
Watch: NDP Transport Critic and MP for Brossard-Laprairie on Verdun evictions
The homes are being expropriated to make way for a larger Autoroute 15 between the new span and the Atwater exit heading toward downtown.
“With regards to the deal, we are offering fair market value, all expenses and all costs associated with a transaction like this,” said Marc Brazeau, a Project Director for Transport Canada.
READ MORE: Design for new Champlain bridge unveiled
The expropriation was only briefly mentioned at the unveiling of the new bridge Friday.
The federal minister of infrastructure Denis Lebel said he regretted the impact this decision will have on the population.
The government says it will do its best to help residents through the transition, but those who oppose the expropriation say that isn’t enough.
“The fact that this was done in such a clandestine way behind closed doors where they tried to keep everything under wraps is concerning to us,” said Benskin.
“It’s transparency. It’s people’s lives that the government is playing with.”
Benskin, along with Mai, have promised to spend as much time as necessary speaking with residents of May street in order to hear what they have to say so they can bring those concerns back to Ottawa.
Watch: Funds earmarked for Turcot and Champlain