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REM will cover tracks in TMR to make room for green space

WATCH: The Town of Mont-Royal has come to agreement of sorts with the REM. Anne Leclair reports.

After months of opposition and negotiations, the Town of Mount Royal (TMR) has come to an agreement with the Réseau express métropolitain (REM).

A new green space will be built over a 150-metre long section of the train tracks, which is a far cry from the intial proposition to cover 1.8 kilometres. Still, both sides are claiming victory.

“It will become a public space and I think all citizens will be very happy with this,” said TMR Mayor Philippe Roy.

“We found a creative solution where it only costs the taxpayers of the Town of Mount Royal $6.5 million,” said CDPQ Infra spokesperson Harout Chitilian.

Mount Royal train tracks to be covered and turned into green space
Mount Royal train tracks to be covered and turned into green space Anne Leclair

 

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When the REM commuter rail system is up and running, the number of trains travelling through TMR is expected to jump from 62 to 550 a day. For many, noise is the number one concern.

“As you can see, the noise level is high, and I think with all the trains going by they’re worried about the sound and you can understand that,” said TMR resident Madeleine Ranger.

TMR’s mayor has been calling on the REM to change its initial plans and move a section of the rail line underground. Both sides settled on covering only a small portion of the tracks after eight months of negotiations and a $6.5 million price tag for T.M.R.

READ MORE: Town of Mount Royal demands new REM tunnel

“It’s going to be a park a public park,” said Roy, adding that the town will have a year to consult citizens and come up with a detailed plan. The 20,0000-square foot area in question sits next to the Mount Royal train station, nestled between two bridges currently used by cars and pedestrians.

The plan to cover it with cement and turn into a green space comes as a relief to many.

“I think it’s a great idea, it’s something we really need,” said resident Tiffany Habelrih.

“I think we need all the green space we can get,” said Ranger.

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The park will permanently connect both sides of the train tracks for the first time in the town’s history.

“For the last 107 years we’ve had this problem crossing east to west and west to east,” said Roy. “Now with this public space we’re answering this problem today.”

READ MORE: REM link to West Island ‘on time and on budget’ to be in service as of 2023

One problem that isn’t being addressed with the new plan is the intial 1.8-kilometre stretch that the mayor and many residents had hoped would be covered, to contain the noise.

TMR was told that would cost an extra $400 million — money taxpayers can’t afford.

WATCH: (July 30, 2019) South Shore REM lines ready for testing

South Shore REM lines ready for testing
South Shore REM lines ready for testing

The REM has scrapped its initial plans to build a sound wall and pedestrian passageway after many residents had sounded the alarm over what they considered a potential eye-sore.

“Esthetically it was an issue for the mayor it was esthetically an issue also for the citizens,” Chitilian told Global News. “As far as the noise levels are concerned, people need to be reassured because we have parameters by which we need to abide by.”

While many residents are bracing for the new rail traffic, they’re also looking forward to more mobility options.

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“It’ll be much easier to commute around Montreal,” Habelrih said.

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