September 10, 2018 7:13 pm
Updated: September 11, 2018 4:07 pm

Environmentalists worry as REM breaks ground in Saint-Laurent Technoparc

Mon, Sep 10: The REM transit project is long overdue for many West Island residents looking for reliable public transit. But as Global's Brayden Jagger Haines reports, construction has environmentalists worried about the surrounding wildlife.

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Work crews plowed through thick brush and tree as preliminary work for the future Réseau Express Métropolitain (REM) light-rail project began in the Technoparc Montréal site on Monday morning.

The work site is across the street from the Eco-campus marsh, where over 80 different species of bird live throughout the year.

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Environmentalists voiced their concern in front of the now fenced off green space.

“They are going to cut all these trees down and its very very important for the birds, ” Sierra Club Quebec member Donald Hobus said.

They are worried about the wildlife in the area and how the construction and removal of threes will affect their habitat.

READ MORE: Residents, mayors say REM could threaten future of Vaudreuil-Hudson commuter train

Hobus said the marshland and the surrounding tree line is the most important area on the island of Montreal for birds.

For many on the West Island, the beginning of construction for the public transit project is a long-awaited relief.

READ MORE: Future light rail electric train station picked in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue

The future REM station is a “game changer,” Technoparc spokesperson Carl Baillargeon said.

The station will help reduce cars on the roads and facilitate transportation to the bustling and growing business area.

REM representative Jean-Vincent Lacroix says work crews are limiting the impact on the wet lands that are north of Alexander felming street.

A total of 20 hectares of brush, shrubbery and trees will be removed for the construction of the REM project Lacroix said.

READ MORE: Environmentalists, bird enthusiasts worry about future of land near Technoparc

That will be replaced with 250,000 trees, which he says represents more than 200 hectares when the project is complete.

“We are really making sure that we are planting a lot more than we affect,” Lacroix said.

A underground tunnel will connect the Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport with the REM network.

Crews will burrow beneath the marsh to connect to the Saint-Laurent Technoparc station.

Hobus fears the burrowing under the marsh will drain the water.

Lacroix reasures that will not happen.

“We are going to make sure that all the construction techniques underneath to build this tunnel are really having no impact on the wet lands above,” Lacroix said.

The $6.3 billion rail network will connect 26 stations between the island of Montreal, the North Shore and the South Shore.

The project is set to be completed in 2023.

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