May 11, 2017 5:25 pm
Updated: May 11, 2017 6:17 pm

New bill would prevent Montreal property owners from contesting expropriation for light rail

WATCH ABOVE: A new bill tabled at the National Assembly Thursday will prevent property owners from contesting expropriations to make way for Montreal’s proposed light rail project. Global’s Raquel Fletcher reports.

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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.

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READ MORE: Proposed Montreal electric train project growing in size and cost

“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.

READ MORE: New report slams planned light electric rail system

“One of the keys to the success of the project is that it has to be on time and on budget. To be on budget, it has to be on time,” said Finance Minister Carlos Leitao.

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.

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

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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