Portion of REM light rail expansion so ugly that two architectural firms quit the project: report

The REM light rail system might have been pitched as a new jewel in Montreal's public transit crown, but two architectural firms have found it so ugly to the eye that they've stepped down, according to a Journal de Montreal report.

According to the report, the two firms have stepped down from the $10 billion project as they don't want to be associated with an eyesore.

Both firms declined to comment when reached by CTV News.

The offending portion of the system is the section along a part of Rene-Levesque and Notre-Dame boulevards in the East End. Many residents have requested the section be built underground, rather than over the streets.

“It's going to be visually problematic,” said Christian Martel of citizen's group Regroupment Citoyen REM Ville-Marie. “We also fear the fact it's going to be noisy and the vibrations.”

A spokesperson for CDPQ Infra, which is in charge of the project, said underground options aren't viable.

A progress report released on Friday found numerous problems with putting the rail system underground, such as water mains and sewers in the way, danger to the metro lines and the possibility of buildings collapsing.

In December, Mayor Valerie Plante said she'd prefer to see the downtown parts buried but opposition leader Lionel Perez said the issues raised by the CDPQ are alarming.

“There's skyscrapers at risk, the metro's at risk,” he said. “Why isn't the mayor saying if she has those reports, that she's vetted them with her own engineers?”

Executive committee member Eric Alan Caldwell said all options are being reviewed.

Martel pointed to the architectural firms' reported decision as proof that his group's concerns are valid.

“If you're ready to refuse a lot of money for your belief, that means it's a really bad idea to go forward with this,” he said.  

- With reporting from CTV Montreal's Angela Mackenzie

SIGN UP NOW

Stay up-to-date and in-the-know by subscribing to one of our newsletters