July 30th, 2014

Suburban Newspaper | Joel Goldenberg

In our special issue of more than six months ago, our evaluation of the status of the long-awaited Cavendish link between Côte St. Luc and St. Laurent was that of mild optimism.
In that issue, we took note of the many promises made over the more than 45 years that the project has been a topic of discussion, only to have nothing happen. The roadblocks have included Côte St. Luc’s opposition to the project because of traffic concerns until the late 1990s, when then-mayor Robert Libman and his council conceived a less intrusive indirect route; and the high cost of building an underpass or overpass under or over CN rail lines.

We also noted this past winter that Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre said during his election campaign that connecting Cavendish was a priority, that $1.2 million was approved by the Montreal executive committee in its capital works budget to update the $5 million merger-era study, and that the planned Hippodrome housing development makes the Cavendish link even more necessary, as the homes would be close to where a link would be. On the other hand, Montreal has yet to approve $44 million in its capital works budget for Phase 1 of the link, as is called for in the Hippodrome project agreement.

And yet, in the months since, the feeling expressed has been that that the project is closer to fruition than it has ever been in the past. Côte St. Luc Mayor Anthony Housefather told a recent meeting organized by Councillor Mike Cohen that he is very optimistic about the progress that has been made.
“We created a committee composed of St. Laurent, Town of Mount Royal, Côte St. Luc and Côte des Neiges-NDG and Montreal central services,” the mayor told the meeting. “We’re re-evaluating all of the plans that came out of the 2005-2007 engineering effort, and updating them.

“I certainly expect we’re going to move forward with Quebec and secure the proper funding for the extension to happen, so that for all those people who say ‘is it going to happen in my lifetime?’ I’ll be able to say ‘yes, it will happen in everyone’s lifetime that’s in this room.’ This is a big priority for Côte St. Luc. We want to make it happen, and Montreal is now committed to making it happen with us, as is TMR. I hope we’ll have continued good news on this very important issue.”

Not long before, Housefather said he was so confident every interested party was on board that it was not necessary for his city to do any more lobbying.

“It’s a priority for everyone,” he told council regular Bernard Tonchin. “The problem before was we didn’t have the will of the elected officials of the City of Montreal to move the project forward, now the mayor of Montreal is committed to it.

“This has been going on for months,” the mayor added at the time. “The mayor of Montreal has our attention. Coderre has put this in place and is working with us. There’s nothing we need to do…. The only question is how the development will be funded and how we’re going to fund Cavendish. It’s not a question anymore of should it happen or not happen. There’s nobody you need to convince.”

Of course, much of the funding will have to come from the provincial government to cover the estimated $140 million cost. That is more likely under the current Quebec Liberal government than it would have been under a Marois PQ regime.

So add at least some more optimism, if not giddy excitement, to this elusive link seeing completion.