Town of Mount Royal demands new REM tunnel

Click to play video: 'Town of Mount Royal offers up potential solution to REM plan'
Town of Mount Royal offers up potential solution to REM plan
WATCH: A key stretch of the new REM train will be going through TMR but if the mayor of that city has his say, the plans will be much different than what are on the books right now. As Global's Dan Spector explains, TMR has a vision of its own – Dec 12, 2018

The Town of Mount Royal has unveiled an ambitious new plan that would overhaul the REM electric train project that’s set to roll into town.

“We are going to miss a historic moment if we don’t do this now,” Mayor Philippe Roy said at a press conference announcing the plan.

Roy wants the whole 1.8-kilometre section from Highway 40 to the Mount Royal Tunnel at Jean Talon to be covered. He says about 50 trains run through Mount Royal now, but once the REM is fully active, over 500 trains will be running through the area each day.

“There will be more trains than there will be subways in the underground subway line so it’s kind of crazy not to try to cover it,” said Roy.

Residents have expressed concern about noise and air pollution related to the REM trains.

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“It’s visual, it’s noise, it’s security; it’s totally unacceptable,” said Georges Sayegh, a Mount Royal resident for 29 years.

Construction on the $6.3-billion REM network is already underway, and a key stretch of the light rail transit project will pass through Mount Royal.

Roy wants one section of the tracks to be covered with a housing development and another section to be covered in a vast green space. Excavation would be needed to make certain sections of the tunnel a few metres deeper.

“We have a chance to do something fabulous right now,” he said.

Roy thinks the Caisse de depot, the company in charge of the project, should pay for the new tunnel. He believes the costs would be offset if the Caisse removed foot bridges and sound walls from its current plans.

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“We’re only asking for some digging, put some foundation and cover the centre of the town, and the rest could follow after that,” Roy said.

The Caisse is already working to complete a plan that does not include any of Roy’s requests, but the mayor isn’t concerned.

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“We don’t think it’s too late. The train track will be closed two years,” he said.

The Town of Mount Royal paid an architecture firm just over $20,000 to come up with its plan. In a statement, the REM said little to acknowledge the proposal.

“We maintain the dialogue with the city, its residents and all the communities that will be served by the REM. We reiterate our commitment to deliver a project that will respect time and budgetary constraints while assuring its exemplary integration in all communities of the network,” said Harout Chitilian, executive director of corporate affairs for the Caisse’s infrastructure arm, CDPQ Infra, which is responsible for the REM project.

The Town of Mount Royal expects to discuss the plan with Quebec Transport Minister François Bonnardel in the new year.

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