Martin C. Barry
Borough Mayor Giuliana Fumagalli delivered very good news at the July 2 meeting of the Villeray/St-Michel/Parc Extension borough council meeting.
After more than a decade of lobbying and legal wrangling with CP Rail and railway regulators, the borough mayor announced at the beginning of the meeting that a federal agency ruled recently that the borough is entitled to two level crossings.
Two level crossings
“The Canadian Transportation Agency has ended a litigation going back several years between the City of Montreal and Canadian Pacific by authorizing the construction of two level-crossings for pedestrians cyclists as claimed by the borough across Canadian Pacific’s rail line,” said Fumagalli.
As such, one of the level crossings will soon be installed between Ogilvy Ave. and de Castelnau St. Another will be created at the southern end of de l’Épée Ave. to cross over some tracks there into the University of Montreal’s new satellite campus.
A 13-year struggle
“This is excellent news for all the residents of Park Extension and for the entire borough,” added Fumagalli. “This is a battle that’s been going on for more than a decade.”
Park Extension city councillor Mary Deros said it had been 13 years since she and others with the borough started working on the level-crossing dossier. “And I would like to thank our services who continued their efforts to finally reach this judgement which we received on June 21,” said Deros.
Appeal still possible
Deros said she is hoping that the judgement won’t be appealed by CP Rail. According to Deros, the judgement makes the City of Montreal completely responsible for the costs of construction and maintenance of the crossings.
“Here on Ogilvy there won’t much to do besides cutting the fences,” she said. (In fact, fencing on the de Castelnau side of the tracks has long been left cut open by people who decided to make their way across rather than take a long detour either to the Ball St. level crossing or to Jean Talon St.)
Lack of social housing
During public question period, Sasha Dyck of Park Extension asked about the centre city’s ongoing ambition to establish a credible portfolio of properties to be redeveloped into social housing, taking into account the recent July 1 moving day when a certain number of families from Park Ex found themselves homeless.
“Budgets for housing have gone up a lot,” said François-Perrault councillor Sylvain Ouellet, who is vice-president of the centre city’s executive-committee and responsible for infrastructure investments. “For months we have been acquiring properties and we have been participating in meetings with social housing groups.”
Ouellet defends city’s actions
While admitting that the centre city hasn’t acquired any properties yet in Park Ex, Ouellet added, “That doesn’t mean we’re doing nothing. Does this mean we could go faster? Maybe yes. But we are starting from so far back. And there aren’t that many opportunities in districts where the lots are small.”
Regarding the ongoing centre city plan to buy properties in Park Ex, Deros said she wanted to make sure that $4.2 million set aside for acquisitions here wouldn’t end up being used elsewhere in Montreal. “But they don’t want to identify the locations because they are in negotiations,” she said. “We are hoping strongly that the city will use this money set aside for Park Ex in Park Extension.”