Property owners will not be able to fight expropriation of their land for Montreal’s light rail project, if a new bill is passed.
Due to a tight timeline, contesting expropriation notices will slow down construction, the provincial government insists, but the opposition says the Liberals are clearing the path for the new electric train by demolishing citizens’ rights.
“The objective is to have the trains rolling along…” Municipal Affairs Minister Martin Coiteux began, before correcting himself. “Well, actually, they will go like fast trains,” he continued, gesturing with his arm for lack of a better term. Semantics aside, the government tabled a bill Thursday that they say will help speed up the construction of Montreal’s light rail project because it removes the ability of property owners to contest expropriation.
The province doesn’t have an estimate yet on how many properties it will need to expropriate, but said it will offer market value. Property owners will be able to contest the amount offered to them, but not the expropriation itself. Under the new law, the minister would need to give owners 30 days notice.
“This is a legal bulldozer,” said Parti Quebecois finance critic Nicolas Marceau.
The PQ called this modification to the law “worrying.”
“There’s a frame that exists right now which implies when you want to expropriate, there has to be a legitimacy to it — there has to be explanations, and there are rights for the citizens to contest,” Marceau said.
However, the government said this law is necessary, “so by 2020, we’re on the trains,” Coiteux said.
The government said the $6 billion project will greatly reduce congested traffic in Montreal and create between 1000 to 3000 full-time jobs.
“It’s a collective interest project,” Coiteux said.
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