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Marvin Rotrand to be dropped from STM board as city moves in a 'new direction'
City councillor Marvin Rotrand is set to be removed from the board of directors of the STM, and it's forcing Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante to answer for the decision.
Rotrand has been serving on the board of directors for the city’s transit authority for most of the past 17 years. He said he was shocked to get a call last week from the mayor’s office informing him that Plante was planning to replace him.
“Yes, it was a big surprise. So I was just told Valerie Plante had made a decision, she's decided to go in a different direction and thanks for your service, you're off the board,” he said.
Rotrand is currently in Toronto representing the STM at the Canadian Urban Transit Association, which he said will be his last official duty.
Rotrand said Plante’s decision to replace him raises a lot of questions.
“The STM is an autonomous body. It doesn't belong to anyone on municipal administration, it's supposed to be non-partisan, and when the agglomeration council names the members, they are supposed to work in the public interest and not in the interest of a party or an administration,” he said.
Plante said the decision to remove him – as well as a Projet Montreal councillor Valerie Patreau, is because a new direction is needed.
“I have to tell you, Mr. Rotrand wants to make this a personal affair, but it's not,” she said. “The new direction is to make sure that the board brings as much expertise as necessary.”
Rotrand said he takes issue with that explanation.
“It cannot be argued that I don't have a background or that I don't bring value to the board,” he said.
Former Westmount Mayor Peter Trent along with Ecole Polytechnique professor Catherine Morency are set to be appointed to the STM's board of directors.
Morency is an expert in transportation and mobility, and holds the university's Chair in mobility and transportation research, while Trent has devoted his career to the management of greater Montreal and its administration.
“Because now the STM is also working closely with the RTM, so it's not the STM alone. It has to be seen from a bigger perspective,” said Plante.
Rotrand has served on the STM's board from 17 years, although he was replaced during the Denis Coderre administration before being reinstated soon after Plante was elected.
“It's never happened that there have been these changes in the middle of a mandate like this,” said Rotrand.
The official opposition at city hall says letting go of Rotrand is a confusing decision.
“Everybody acknowledges the expertise, the knowledge that Mr. Rotrand brought,” said Ensemble Montreal leader Lionel Perez.
Perez said it’s possible it could be payback.
“Mr. Rotrand has expressed how he's concerned that over the last year, he's been critical of the administration. Is this political payback? No one knows for sure,” he said.
Montreal city councillors are expected to vote on Rotrand's replacement this week, followed by another vote at the Agglomeration Council on Thursday.