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Construction continues on future West Island REM stations without parking plan

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WATCH: While the future Kirkland REM station is still years from being complete, parking has become a major concern for local residents. Global’s Brayden Jagger Haines reports – Apr 22, 2021

Discussions surrounding parking at two future REM stations on the West Island remain stalled with no confirmed plan in place.

REM spokesperson Jean-Vincent Lacroix says at this stage in the construction no parking spaces have been allotted to the future Kirkland and Pointe-Claire electric light-rail stations.

“We never said there was not going to be parking, what we said is it has to be confirmed,” Lacroix said.

Some 500 parking spots were included in the initial planning of the Kirkland site situated on the grounds of RioCan Centre.

Another 1,500 were promised at the station next to the Fairview shopping centre in 2016.

Currently, the REM says it is still in talks about the parking situation at both locations with land developers to find a solution.

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Discussions have been ongoing for the last three years.

“It takes time to have this type of agreement but we are working on that,” Lacroix said.

Read more: Major redevelopment coming to RioCan Centre in Kirkland

The current state of limbo is raising concern with Pointe-Claire Mayor John Belvedere.

He says having available parking is essential for West Island commuters who use their vehicles to get to the station.

“We live on the West Island. It’s not easy to get around,” Belvedere said.

“We don’t have bus stops on the corner of every street so we need parking for people to move around and cross the highway.”

Belvedere says the success of the REM station depends on people having access.

“They want the REM to work and the way to do that is to get the people there. They’re going to have to put the infrastructure in place or there will be no ridership.”

Read more: Pointe-Claire mayor voices concerns as REM to eliminate thousands of parking spots

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The current state of the project has West Island commuters on edge as well.

A petition calling on parking to be put in place at the Kirkland station has been circulating online.

Resident Karen Cliffe, who launched the call, says she can’t understand how parking wasn’t one of the first things established in the planning of this project.

“When I look at a project of this magnitude and how they can possibly build something like this without a plan?” Cliffe said.

She worries about the future development plans set to begin at the RioCan centre and how they will affect the possible parking set at the future REM station.

RioCan announced plans to revitalize the area. It’s partnered with the Broccolini Real Estate Group for a massive redevelopment amid the arrival of the future REM station.

The new project will transform the 1.5-million-square-foot property.

It will be a mix of residential housing, approximately 240,000 square feet of office space and 135,000 square feet for commercial use.

“Why don’t we know if there is parking yet when there’s that type of development coming?” Cliffe said.

It’s a similar situation for the Pointe-Claire station.

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Cadillac Fairview announced its plans to develop almost 50 hectares of land just west of the mall in Pointe-Claire.

It’s slated to be transformed into high-rise housing, office spaces a hotel and more.

It’s being called the West Island’s own downtown.

Lacroix says the silver lining in these ongoing discussions is the future REM stations are still under construction and there is still time before the scheduled date of completion, which is set for the year 2024.

In the meantime, other alternatives such as increasing STM busing to the stations, are being considered to help commuters access the REM.

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