MONTREAL -- Quebec's ministry of transport announced Tuesday the formation of an expert committee to oversee the $10-billion extension of the REM light-rail network to the east end of Montreal.

Maud Cohen, an engineer and president and director general of the Fondation CHU Sainte-Justine, will head the 15-member multi-disciplinary committee, which includes urban planners and architects. 

The Montreal architectural firm Lemay will work with the committee to develop guidelines for integrating the eastern REM into the urban landscape. Last December, three partners behind the project announced it would extend the network to Montreal North and Pointe-aux-Trembles, adding 32 kilometres and 23 stations.

Earlier this year, two architectural firms reportedly quit the project over how ugly the east-end extension looked.

On Tuesday, the ministry announced a public consultation process would be part of the proposed section and that feedback would be included in the overall design.

Harout Chitilian, executive director of corporate affairs at the Caisse de Dépôt et Placement du Québec (CDPQ), said the project is overdue and necessary for the development of the east and northeast of Montreal. 

"The solution must be powerful, safe, reliable and above all accessible," he said Tuesday at a news conference alongside Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante.

Plante said the extension needs to take a "harmonious" approach and respect the heritage of the boroughs it will pass through. Residents have raised concerns about the portion of the track that will run along Rene-Levesque and Notre-Dame in the east end and want it to be constructed underground.

It remains to be seen where the committee will stand on the issue.

"I am confident we have the good people at the table to identify these solutions," Plante said.

The committee members are:

  • Maud Cohen
  • Mouna Andraos
  • Frédérick Bouthillette
  • Rose Lyndsay Daudier
  • Marie Elaine Farley
  • Luc Gagnon
  • Éric Gauthier
  • Ken Greenberg
  • Eric Millette
  • Paula Negron
  • Christian Savard
  • Monique Simard
  • Stéphanie Trudeau
  • Jean-Paul Viguier
  • Christian Yaccarini