MONTREAL — The long-awaited Cavendish extension, which was part of a deal between the city of Montreal and the province, has suddenly disappeared from the three-year capital budget with no explanation, charges a Côte St. Luc city councillor.

Dida Berku calls the withdrawal of the $44-million project “a flagrant violation of a resolution unanimously adopted” by Montreal city council in March 2012.

And the move means the city is reneging on the deal it signed in March 2012 with the provincial government to develop the former Blue Bonnets race track land for the construction of between 5,000 and 8,000 homes, she said.

But Michael Applebaum, mayor of Côte des Neiges—Notre Dame de Grâce, said the deal was conditional on the money coming from the provincial government, and since there’s no indication that will happen, he had to take it out of the budget.

“I’m going to work very hard to get the money from the (provincial) government and when they do that, we’ll put it in the budget,” said Applebaum, chair of the city of Montreal’s executive committee.

The deal between the city and province called for the completion of phase one of the extension that would connect Cavendish Blvd. in St. Laurent to Royalmount Ave., and be built in five to 10 years at a cost of $44 million. It was included in the 2012-2014 three-year capital budget, but has mysteriously disappeared from the 2013-2015 budget released this week.

“I’m being realistic and not putting in the infrastructure budget if the money isn’t there,” Applebaum said. “(Those upset about this) should be asking the provincial government and the new minister of transport if this will be a priority for them.”

The proposed budget is to be presented to Montreal city council for adoption next week.

Anthony Housefather, mayor of Côte St. Luc, said the city would do everything to oppose the change.

“The proposal by the city of Montreal to remove these amounts … is a complete reversal of commitments made only months ago and is completely unacceptable to those living and working in the west end and West Island of Montreal,” he said in a statement.

The second phase of the extension, to link Royalmount Ave. to Cavendish Blvd. in Côte St. Luc, was to begin only after 2017.

Construction of the homes was only to start in 2017 and the city would use profits from the sale of the land to reinvest in the area as well as cover costs for studies to build the extension.

The 102-year-old Blue Bonnets racetrack shut down in 2009.

The Cavendish link was meant to ease traffic along the congested Décarie highway by connecting the northern and southern portions of the disjointed artery between St. Laurent and Côte St. Luc.

“It’s been one step forward and two steps backwards since the demerger,” Berku said. “What’s going on here?

“They just pulled the plug on it.”

Montreal council approved the $140-million extension in 2004, opened a project office and assigned it a $5-million budget to draw up plans.

But Mayor Gérald Tremblay’s $8.1-billion, 20-year transportation plan, made public in May 2007, put the project on the back burner.

Berku said when they asked Applebaum why the project was no longer in the budget this year, he told them ‘it was complicated.’

“But there’s nothing complicated about it, they just removed it from the budget,” Berku said.

smontgomery@montrealgazette.com

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