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Montreal’s wish list for upcoming Quebec budget includes extension of Metro’s orange line

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante says her administration's demands focus on public transit, the environment and housing. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante has a long wish list for the Quebec government’s upcoming annual budget, including an extension of the Metro’s orange line.

The city is proposing to prolong the western portion of the line by two stations to the future light-rail network’s Bois-Franc station in Montreal’s Ville-Saint-Laurent borough as part of a larger initiative to boost public transit.

“For me, it is crucial,” she said, pointing to growing development in the area. “It is important.”

Extending the orange line to reach the future Réseau express métropolitain (REM) in the area would ease traffic woes on congested arteries and bus stations in a changing area, according to Plante.

A report on the issue, which was presented to the city’s executive committee, also shows that the move would give commuters better access to industrial sectors and the airport. It would also reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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The city’s request comes as part of a larger docket of demands, which include funding for public transit, environment and housing initiatives, ahead of the provincial budget on March 10.

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In a letter to Finance Minister Éric Girard, Plante said that while Montreal is devoting funding to housing, it isn’t enough to address the needs of the booming city.

“We can no longer wait to act,” she said at a news conference on Wednesday.

As part of the wish list, the Plante administration is seeking $320 million over two years to build 6,000 social housing units by 2021. The city also needs $100 million to construct apartments under its Réflexe Montréal initiative from 2017.

“We are still waiting for that money,” she said.

The city is asking for an additional $25 million per year to renovate residential buildings in disrepair and to revitalize neighbourhoods. It also wants $4.5 million to adapt the homes of people with reduced mobility.

When it comes to public transit, the city hopes the province will consider boosting its funding by 50 per cent — a move it claims will also a big step in more sustainable transportation in Montreal.

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Aside from the extension of the Metro’s orange line, Plante specifically wants the Quebec government to invest in Montreal’s project to extend the rapid bus system to Notre-Dame Street East.

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The province should also prioritize Montreal’s steps toward making its public transit system electric, according to Plante.

The wish list also includes several asks for environmental projects in order to fight climate change. A large part of this is investing more money into public transit to cut down on carbon emissions.

“We must remember that Quebec’s success in terms of ecological transition depends on Montreal’s success,” she said. “We are half the population and so all the big gains can be done here in Montreal, in the metropolitan area.”

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