January 23, 2017 5:37 pm
Updated: January 23, 2017 6:44 pm

Caisse de dépôt, BAPE go head to head over Montreal electric train report

WATCH ABOVE: The Caisse de dépôt is fighting back after Quebec's environmental agency questioned Montreal's $5.5 billion electric train project. Global's Tim Sargeant reports.

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The Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec is attacking Quebec’s environmental agency (BAPE) after it questioned Montreal’s $5.5-billion electric train project.

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The report stated the REM project lacks specifics in terms of ridership, finances and environmental impact.

“It will be the most expensive project ever built in North America anywhere per passenger,” said Luc Gagnon, one of the people who testified during public consultations last summer.

READ MORE: Quebec environmental agency releases impact study on Montreal’s new electric train

Quebec’s pension fund manager came out swinging, saying the agency didn’t thoroughly review the proposal to build a sprawling light rail project across Greater Montreal.

The Caisse claims it submitted 8,297 pages to the BAPE supporting its light rail train proposal. It argued the BAPE ignored more than 1,200 pages of documents.

Officials at the Caisse refused Global News’ request for comment.

READ MORE: Caisse announces major public transit project to link most of Greater Montreal

The pension fund manager complained the BAPE’s assessment report on the train proposal is misleading and full of errors.

WATCH BELOW: Montreal’s electric train

Nevertheless, some city councillors argue the environmental agency was simply doing its job.

“It doesn’t make that much sense,” city councillor Peter McQueen said.

“You know what they should do? Down scale it – maybe just look at the south shore part.”

READ MORE: Quebec premier’s comments ignite concern over Train de l’Ouest

Others argue the Caisse is right to attack the BAPE, insisting the pension fund manager knows more about building trains than the environmental agency.

“I’m on the side of the Caisse. I’m on the side of the project,” said Clifford Lincoln, a train advocate.

“We’ve been waiting too long and if it doesn’t happen, what is the alternative?”

READ MORE: Montreal West mayor urges Transport Minister to improve train service

Quebec’s transport minister, Laurent Lessard, was not available for comment, but his spokesperson told Global News the project is expected to go ahead without delay.

Construction is expected to start at the end of the year, with the first train rolling in by late 2020.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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