Federal government will invest $1.28B in Montreal light-rail transit line
Published Wednesday, June 14, 2017 8:13PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, June 15, 2017 6:46PM EDT
The federal government is investing $1.28 billion into a major Montreal rail project that will connect the city to its suburbs and to Trudeau international airport.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the REM announcement at Central Station Thursday morning along with Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre and Michael Sabia, the head of the Caisse de Depot.
“The REM is one of the most ambitious public transportation projects in our history," said Trudeau. "In addition to making it quicker and easier for millions of Quebec residents to get around, the REM will reduce the number of cars on the roads, help ease traffic and make the air cleaner."
Officials estimate the REM would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 35,000 tonnes within its first year of operations.
The REM line would cover 67 kilometres and link the West Island, Trudeau Airport, the South Shore, and take over the existing Deux-Montagnes train line and part of the Mascouche railway.
It would be the fourth longest automated transportation line in the world after those in Singapore, Dubai and Vancouver.
“The announcement today represents a big step toward improving the quality of life of Canadians and their families, creating good, well-paying jobs for the middle class and growing the economy,” added the prime minister.
The current cost for the REM is $6 billion, with most money coming from the Caisse de Depot.
The Quebec government is contributing $1.3 billion and has called on Ottawa to pitch in at least $1 billion.
Construction on the REM is supposed to begin this summer, with service starting in 2020 -- promised to come in on time and on budget.
The Canadian government said more than 34,000 direct and indirect jobs are expected to be created during construction and more than 1,000 permanent jobs to be created upon completion.
In Quebec City, the opposition parties said taxpayers should be getting guarantees in exchange for the investment.
They see the transit project as an opportunity to create jobs and give Quebec's manufacturing sector a boost, but are concerned jobs will be outsourced because the Quebec government isn't putting a minimum requirement on local production.
Of 18 companies that are part of consortium bids, 14 are from Canada or Quebec, but there are no guarantees they would win the bid.
Both PQ leader Jean-Francois Lisée and CAQ leader Francois Legault talked about the Buy America Act Thursday and its demand for 60 per cent local production for American public transit projects.
Lisée is calling on Quebec to match that level, while Legault said Quebec should demand a minimum of 25 per cent of construction be done by local employees.
“There are zero requirements for having jobs created here for the train itself. Of course, the cement will be here and the construction will be here, but for the train -- the electric train itself -- it could be all built outside of Quebec. And I think that's just nonsensical,” said Lisée.
“It's not a partisan issue,” added Legault. “I already said that I'm in favour of the project, I welcome the federal contribution, but it makes no sense at all to refuse the opportunity to create quality jobs in Quebec.”
Ottawa has promised to invest about $186 billion over 11 years into infrastructure projects across the country.
With a report from The Canadian Press