Blasting at site of future Edouard-Montpetit REM station raises concerns

A sign warns of explosives use in the area. Twelve short beeps, followed by a 30 second pause will precede every blast. Monday, Oct. 22, 2018. Dan Spector/Global News

A new phase of construction has begun on the new REM train network near the border of Côte-des-Neiges and Outremont, and it involves using dynamite — right near a school and a residential area.

Monday evening marks the first day that crews will be carrying out controlled blasting near the corner of Vincent D’Indy Avenue and Edouard-Montpetit Boulevard, part of excavation for  the future Edouard-Montpetit station.

When complete, the station will be 20 floors underground, one of the deepest in North America.

REM spokesperson Jean-Vincent Lacroix said crews will be using dynamite twice a day, before 7 a.m. and after 7 p.m., for the next eight months.

He explained the controlled blasting will be done with small amounts of explosives.

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READ MORE: Environmentalists worry as REM breaks ground in Saint-Laurent Technoparc

After a warning sound, all traffic will be stopped in the area for five minutes each time.

Construction workers onsite told Global News the blue Metro line will be halted as a result, but the REM said that isn’t the case. Lacroix told Global News there will be no delays and the Metro will continue as scheduled.

‘It doesn’t worry me’

Students commuting to the Université de Montréal by Metro on Monday morning were concerned the blasts could make them late for school.

“If it shuts down, I’ll probably be late,” said student Marie Roy.

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Workers are using acoustic screens and blasting mats to control the noise and the debris.

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“I’m kind of stressed a bit,” said student Celine Meriaux, when she learned the blasting would be happening near her school.

Others, however, had a different take, though nonetheless cautious.

“They’ve planned it. I don’t think it will affect us. The school is old, though, so it might affect the building.”

There are also a number of apartment buildings within 100 metres of the blasting site, and residents wondered how the blasts might affect them.

“For people living here, I mean, the sound and stuff like that is probably going to be annoying. It’s very close to where we live,” said Sébastien Auclair, who lives across the street from the site.

READ MORE: Hundreds of trees chopped down to make way for future Pointe-Claire REM station

He wondered how the explosions might affect his building.

“I guess the vibration, the windows, the foundation, stuff like that. People need to be careful what they put at the edge of the table,” he said.

–with files from Global’s Tim Sargeant

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