Montreal's Irish community disappointed new REM station in Griffintown will be named after former premier Bernard Landry
Despite calls to name the forthcoming REM light rail station in Griffintown after its historic Irish community, it will be named after former Quebec premier Bernard Landry.
The station, at the corner of Ottawa and William Streets, will formally be called Griffintown-Bernard-Landry.
Fergus Keyes of the Montreal Irish Memorial Park Foundation confirmed the news, which was announced by Montreal Maytor Valerie Plante in a news conference Monday afternoon.
Keyes said the mayor called a meeting Montreal morning with more than a dozen Irish organizations to give them the news.
"Although I don't speak for the entire Irish community, I've got to say that overall it was unanimous disappointment that she would continue to push to name the station after Bernard Landry," he said. "She's ignoring the wishes of the Irish community."
Plante had originally announced last fall that the REM station would recognize Landry's important contributions to the development of the downtown area.
The announcement was not formalized, however, and the station in the city's Peel Basin was the only station out of 26 not to be given a formal name in February.
Members of the city's Irish community urged Plante to reconsider, and to instead choose a name remembering the neighbourhood's Irish community, who built much of the local infrastructure. The Irish community wanted the station to simply be called Griffintown, after the neighbourhood, as is the case with nearly every other REM station on the 67-kilometre line.
Some called Landry a politician who has created discord, accusing him of having made comments against immigration and associating Landry with the destruction of Cree burial sites in northwestern Quebec in favour of Hydro-Quebec projects.
"It’s totally unacceptable to us. It demonstrates a lack of history of Montreal and a certain level of arrogance on behalf of the mayor of Montreal,” said Keyes.
Plante acknowledged that not everyone in the Irish community would be pleased with the announcement.
"I feel like today some people will be happy and some people won't be happy, but the hyphen is a very important part of the name, and Griffintown is coming first," she said.
The hyphenated name creates a link between the Irish heritage of the city and the Multimedia City, part of Landry's legacy, Plante said.
"This station is also a tribute to the tremendous contribution made by Bernard Landry to our city's development, as it is located adjacent to the Cité du Multimédia, which has become a symbol of our former premier's bold economic vision, the impact of which lives on today," said Plante.
A park facing the station will be named after 18th-century Montreal businesswoman Mary Griffin, a voted on by the City of Montreal in 2018.
The station is set to open in 2023.
Keyes said the matter is not over.
"It is not going to go away. We will never let that station be named after Mr. Landry," he said.