Montreal-area mayors say they have been railroaded by REM project

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Suburban Montreal mayors are frustrated with what they call tactics by the Caisse de dépôt to silence their input on the REM lightrail project. Officials say they have been largely ignored by the Caisse and gagged from speaking out about their concerns publicly due to non-disclosure agreements.

St-Laurent Borough Mayor Alan DeSousa told CJAD 800's Elias Makos that he thinks the Caisse has been resistant to input from elected officials in an effort to keep the project on schedule.

"They've put in place a process that's very much like a runaway train," said DeSousa. "They're barreling so fast and in such a straight line that they're knocking anything in their way off the track."

"They don't tolerate any small talk. The fact that they deign to talk to local mayors and local councils seems like it's a nuissance to them," he said.

But that hasn't stopped mayors from continuing to make their concerns known to the Caisse about the $6.3 billion project. DeSousa said non-disclosure agreements had not slowed his efforts, or those of other mayors, to bring up issues, like station accessiblity, that directly impact their boroughs' residents.

"[The REM] is going to have impacts on our community in terms of urban planning, transport, development, etc. There is and was very little receptivity from the REM to think even a little bit outside the box of their specific mandate," he said. "[But] mayors are fighting hard to make sure that quality of life in their burroughs isn't being compromised."

In December 2018, the Caisse responded to greivances about lack of transparency and receptivity to Mayor input, writing that it "advocate(s) continuous exchanges and active collaboration." 

The Caisse has said the new light-rail system will open by the end of 2021, as planned.

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