Temporary solution for Ogilvy/de Castelnau crossing to be shortlived
The closed crossing at Ogilvy and De Castelnau which has created a groundswell of community militancy over the past months has once again attracted anger and frustration. On July 22, Exo employees installed a gate in the fence and subsequently locked it, opening it only a handful of times.
This is in anticipation of an agreement between Canadian Pacific, Exo and the City of Montreal to grant temporary access to the passage before a permanent solution is installed in November. Although many thought the temporary arrangement would last until then, Canadian Pacific (CP) has indicated otherwise.
Many residents say this is yet another example of the political games being played for a simple fence, shut by Canadian Pacific since May 13 citing security concerns. Anger turned into action on Jul. 23 when resident Daniel Spade took matters into his own hands, breaking the lock and subsequently being arrested for it.
Residents gathered on Jul. 27 for a small protest at the fence to voice their concerns and frustration. It was also attended by what many said was an overzealous police presence, with 7 police cruisers and officers from the riot squad.
The temporary agreement between the city, Canadian Pacific (CP) and Exo would allow passage at the fence through the new gate between 6 AM and 11 PM, 7 days a week.
“This temporary arrangement is subject to cost-sharing between the City and Exo,” said city spokesperson Hugo Bourgoin, adding that the crossing would be supervised by a security guard. Parties have not yet come to an agreement, the fence has remained closed and CP has indicated the arrangement would be short-lived.
“CP has agreed to the request made by Montreal and Exo to allow temporary public access to the interlink platform at this location,” said CP spokesperson Stacy Patenaude, but added that the “temporary arrangement expires on August 15.”
Many are worried that the agreement is only being put in place to accommodate spectators of the Rogers Cup, hosted at the nearby IGA Stadium from Aug. 6 to 15. Coincidently, the agreement between the city and CP ends on the same day.
When contacted, the City of Montreal did not want to confirm nor deny this date or its relation to the Roger’s Cup, instead stating that “all the partners are mobilized to quickly arrive at a solution that will meet the wishes of the citizens, that we share.”
Approximately 15 people gathered at the station on Tuesday to voice their anger and frustration at what many see as an unnecessarily confusing and expensive process.
“So far, it’s still been closed since last week,” said protestor Béatrice Calmel, adding that all the measures taken were unnecessarily complicated and expensive.
“We’re at a point where it’s really lawyers talking to each other on both sides,” said borough Mayor Giuliana Fumagalli, who was also in attendance. She added that once negotiations had been finalized the gate could be opened.
When asked about the Aug. 15 expiry date, mayor Fumagalli said it was not the information she had and would not comment on it but keep putting pressure on the city. She nonetheless commended citizens on their involvement and dedication – “they have raised awareness.”
Many at the demonstration, including mayor Fumagalli, were concerned by the heavy police presence. Some commented it was unnecessary and a waste of money to dispatch riot police to such a small event.
Anger turns to action
Daniel Spade is a longtime Park Extension resident and is very frustrated by the closure of the fence and what he says is becoming a game. “I kind of reached my breaking point that day,” said Spade, explaining that he was expecting the fence to be open but then saw it was locked.
“I did something which was really immature, and I went home and decided I wanted to play the game and I got a crowbar and I broke the lock,” he stated. Exo security immediately followed and accosted him in a car, trying to block his way by pulling the car in front of him and his dog.
Spade eventually stopped and waited for the police to show up, where he was arrested and given a court date. Spade has yet to look at what he is charged with. “It’s on my fridge, I really don’t care,” he said, adding that he felt good about what he had done and that someone had to take a stand.
Spade was also concerned by what he saw as a flawed solution, asking whether the fence would be opened for spectators attending the Roger’s Cup. “That’s what I want to know, it’s getting geared up just for that and that’s in about a week,” he concluded.