No way out: Recent gas leak highlights Côte Saint-Luc’s need for Cavendish Extension

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‘We definitely need another route out,’ says Mayor Mitchell Brownstein as negotiations continue

The Sept. 6 gas leak in Côte Saint-Luc caused major gridlock throughout Montreal’s west end, making it a struggle to get in and out for motorists and emergency crews alike.(Navneet Pall)

Côte Saint-Luc resident Michael Litvack woke on Sept. 6 to discover his bedside clock had stopped working at around 8:15 a.m.

It quickly became apparent he was among the more than 10,000 Hydro-Québec customers in Montreal’s west end without power after authorities shut it off due to a gas leak near the intersection of Kildare Road and Cavendish Boulevard.

As a crew repaired the broken gas pipe and nearby residences were evacuated, the Cavendish Boulevard underpass — one of just two ways out of Côte Saint-Luc — was only accessible by side streets.

The main part of Côte Saint-Luc is surrounded by train tracks and a rail yard, making the underpasses on Cavendish and Westminster Avenue the only two routes out of a suburban municipality of more than 30,000 people.

Côte Saint-Luc’s roads are generally quiet but, with one underpass partially blocked, the gas leak ignited a traffic nightmare. Gridlock around both underpasses lasted for several hours despite the Montreal fire department’s request that motorists avoid the area.

“People in my part of Côte Saint-Luc were stuck,” said Litvack, who struggled to get a blood test that day. “Businesses had to close. Schools had to close. Doctors appointments had to be rescheduled.”

Côte Saint-Luc’s Cavendish Boulevard underpass is regularly busy with motorists, trucks, buses and pedestrians as it is one of the only ways out of the city. (Isaac Olson/CBC)

It served as a stark reminder of how Côte Saint-Luc’s design leaves it vulnerable, he said.

The municipality has seen big changes in the last decade as new homes and residential buildings are added every year. Several large-scale, multi-storey apartment complexes are currently under construction and there is talk of more on the way.

“It’s going to get worse,” Litvak said. “As the cars increase and the people increase, the problems will increase.”

The Westminster Avenue underpass is one of Côte Saint-Luc’s two access points. (Isaac Olson/CBC)

There are four emergency gates that allow vehicles to drive over train tracks, but opening them requires coordination with the train companies.

The best solution, most say, would be a third exit to the north, heading to Montreal’s Saint-Laurent borough and the Town of Mount Royal, but the so-called Cavendish Extension has been firmly anchored in the discussion phase for some five decades — those discussions were delayed two more years earlier this week.

Mayor says Cavendish Extension is in the works

After the gas leak, Mayor Mitchell Brownstein has been reminding residents that he is working hard on bringing the Cavendish Extension to life.

“We definitely need another route out,” he told CBC News.

It is no longer a question of if, it is a question of when, said Brownstein, noting he’s made it a top priority since assuming office in 2016.

The project has been in Montreal’s capital work budget since 2015 with a completion date originally set for 2020. Currently, Montreal has $13 million earmarked for the cause and money is set aside at the provincial level as well.

While Canadian Pacific (CP) is asking for a costly tunnel under the entire rail yard, Brownstein said he, along with the other levels of government, is pushing for two underpasses under the two separate tracks just north of Cavendish Boulevard.

Rather than being an alternate to the nearby Decarie Expressway, it would be a quieter, ground-level roadway that, fitting with the neighbourhood’s character, connects Côte Saint-Luc to Mount Royal’s Royalmount Avenue and St-Laurent’s section of Cavendish Boulevard.

The indirect route would follow a to-be-built, fenced-in road through the rail yard and a small portion of private land owned by the property developer, Olymbec.

The properties owned by Olymbec are in the starred area. (Google Maps)

Montreal reserved that undeveloped land for expropriation and, on Thursday, the agglomeration council extended the reserve for another two years, to buy time for Montreal to continue its negotiations with CP.

The future of the Cavendish Extension hinges on those negotiations — negotiations that have been ongoing for a number of years.

“We just need to keep pushing to get the proper road built that isn’t a highway, but allows us a way out of our city,” said Brownstein. The renewed two-year extension on the reserved land, he added, means “everybody is on a timeline.”

A stretch of Cavendish Boulevard in Côte Saint-Luc was closed due to a Sept. 6 gas leak that created a traffic jam so bad that Montreal’s fire department struggled to access the site. (Navneet Pall/CBC)

However, Montreal also extended negotiations by another two years Tuesday and MNA David Birnbaum described that decision as “disappointing” because it green lights further delays.

“We have always said and continue to say, we will be absolutely and fundamentally involved in the development of the Cavendish Extension,” he said, describing it as not only important for the safety of residents, but also for the economy.

He said he’s called meetings between all the players involved to accelerate the process and the province has been offering support.

“We’re all ready to be a major part of this project and it’s time for it to move forward.”

For that to happen, he concluded, Montreal needs to complete negotiations with CP.

CBC reached out to CP for comment, but didn’t hear back in time for publication.

To help push the project forward, Côte Saint-Luc Coun. David Tordjman is encouraging residents to raise their own voices to the cause as, he said, the gas leak brought safety to the forefront of the discussion.

With Quebec’s general election heating up and Canada’s election just around the corner, he said, “We need more firm action from all levels of government.”

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Cavendish Boulevard extension may be a pipe dream

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Global News reports that the Cavendish extension dream may fade completely in 2 years from now. After endless discussion, pronouncements and media opportunities over the last 50 years we may be down to the wire on whether this project will come to fruition.

Montreal city council passed a motion last Tuesday to extend the negotiation deadline with CN and CP Rail by two years, according to Global News.

This means city officials have 24 months to reach a deal with the rail companies to allow for the extension of the boulevard over their tracks — but no more extensions will be granted after that period.

So what’s the problem?

Cote Saint-Luc has wanted to see this plan come about since the late 1990s. It was a major promise in the merger debacle of the early 2000s. The former City of Saint-Laurent and current Borough of the same name (and same mayor) is also in favour. Local Members of the National Assembly have been on board for years as has the Member of Parliament, notably Anthony Housefather is his capacities of Borough Councillor, CSL Mayor and MP for Mount-Royal.

But Montreal and the province have been mired in construction gridlock across the Island. Resources have been prioritized elsewhere and municipal, provincial and federal funding has been allocated for years to come. Turcot will be a mess for several more years. The REM project will keep us tied up for the next 5 years too. And those are just some of the biggies.

Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante is no friend to motorists! And the upcoming Quebec election dust will have to settle for us to know what new priorities lie ahead.

This will not be an easy time for Mayors Brownstein and de Sousa who must get the necessary major players around the table to make things happen. The project cannot advance without the next Quebec premier and the Mayor of Montreal giving the nod of approval.

Time may be running out on this critical infrastructure plan and 50 years of dreaming may go up in smoke without concrete action, and fast.

 

Global News:  Cavendish Boulevard extension faces deadline

For more information on the history of the Cavendish extension , search this blog.

40 electric buses coming to Montreal, Laval public transit networks | CBC News

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Way to go Montreal Transit Corp. Electric mobility is the way to go throughout Quebec.

 

Source: 40 electric buses coming to Montreal, Laval public transit networks | CBC News

Montreal adopts motion calling for ban on private ownership of handguns, assault weapons | CBC News

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Bold move, long overdue. Canadians do not need handguns.

Let’s see Montreal suburbs pass the same resolution and add to the outcry. Contact your City Councillor as well as your MP.

 

Source: Montreal adopts motion calling for ban on private ownership of handguns, assault weapons | CBC News

City says roadwork coming to larger section of Côte-Saint-Luc Rd. — in 2020

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The negligence in the upkeep of Montreal’s section of CSL Road is an embarrassment and a danger. Two more years of this state of disrepair is unacceptable.

 

 

CBC News:   City says roadwork coming to larger section of Côte-Saint-Luc Rd. — in 2020
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/c%C3%B4te-saint-luc-road-disrepair-construction-2020-1.4787995

Montreal appeals court order to bury Meadowbrook stream

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Part of the Little St. Pierre River wends through the Meadowbrook Golf Course, appeal, sewer, bury
Creek that runs through golf course is last remnant of a river that once flowed from the western slopes of Mount Royal to Old Montreal.Channelling the Meadowbrook creek into an underground storm sewer would result in lost opportunities to rehabilitate this sector, city says in its appeal.  PHOTO JO ANN GOLDWATER / LES AMIS DE MEADOWBROOK

Montreal is appealing a ruling ordering it to bury a contaminated creek on the Meadowbrook Golf Club that is the last remnant of the St-­Pierre River.

In an appeal presented in the Quebec Court of Appeal Wednesday, the city argues that Quebec Superior Court Judge Chantal Corriveau erred in her June 7 judgment obliging it to turn the creek into a sewer within 18 months. It notes that Quebec’s Environment Quality Act calls for integrated management of wetlands and bodies of water in keeping with the principles of sustainable development and requires authorities to prevent the loss of wetlands and bodies of water.

As part of a natural drainage basin, the brook “constitutes an important asset for which upgrading work is to be implemented,” the city argues, adding that plans to rehabilitate part of the St-Pierre River are being studied and a master plan on drainage basins on the island of Montreal is underway.

Restoring the creek could be a key feature of a plan for rainwater management in an area stretching from the Blue Bonnets site at Décarie Blvd. and Jean-Talon St. to the Lachine Canal, including a possible green corridor from the Meadowbrook Golf Course to the canal, the appeal says.

“On the other hand, channelling the Meadowbrook creek into an underground storm sewer would result in lost opportunities to rehabilitate this sector, create new, green infrastructures downstream and allow an outlet for excess water that would relieve pressure on underground infrastructures,” it says.

The winding, 200-­metre creek on the 57-­hectare golf course is “the last section of the former St-Pierre River that is still in existence,” the city notes.

The golf course straddles Côte St-Luc and Montreal, but the creek flows above ground only on the Montreal side, since Côte St-Luc diverted its section into the sewer system decades ago.

Developer Meadowbrook Groupe Pacific Inc., which owns the golf course, had sued Montreal, demanding that the creek be buried, describing it as nothing more than a ditch and an open-­air sewer.

However, judge Corriveau ruled the creek is indeed a river, based on a study by the Quebec environment department confirming it is part of the former St-Pierre. Originating on Mount Royal, it flowed through present-day Snowdon, Côte St-Luc, Ville St-Pierre and St-Henri — where it fed a lake on the site of the Turcot Yards — to Old Montreal. Explorer Samuel de Champlain described the river, then teeming with fish, when he explored Montreal in 1611.

The Meadowbrook creek is fed by a storm sewer in Côte St-Luc and disappears into a combined sewer in Montreal. Repeated studies have shown it is contaminated by fecal coliform bacteria originating in crossed sewer and storm-water pipes at as many as 218 addresses in Côte St-Luc and Montreal West.

In its appeal, the city argues the solution to the contamination is not turning the creek into a sewer but rather fixing the crossed connections.

Montreal had tried unsuccessfully to have the other two municipalities named as co-defendants in the lawsuit, since the contamination originates on their territory.

It also argues that the timetable set by Corriveau is not feasible. The judge ordered the city to apply to the provincial environment department for a permit to bury the river within four months, to clean up the contamination within 18 months and to decontaminate the former riverbed and banks within 24 months. That simply isn’t enough time to get the jobs done, the city says.

Based on previous experience of correcting crossed sewer pipes in Kirkland, it would take at least two to five years to fix the crossed pipes in Côte St-Luc and Montreal West, not counting the time needed for further investigation, the city says.

It asked the appeal court for permission to present new evidence on a viable solution, on a realistic timetable, and on which contaminants are polluting the creek.

Even though Meadowbrook Groupe Pacific won the case, it is also appealing the ruling. In an appeal filed July 5, the developer asks the court to order the city to eliminate the creek whether or not the environment department gives its permission, and whether or not it is contaminated.

The appeal seeks to “modify the earlier judgment so that the order clearly forces the city to achieve a result that puts an end to any flow of water on the surface of the property of the appellant and that this obligation not be subject to any condition.”

Since the creek is fed by a storm sewer, the city should be ordered to cut off the flow of water whatever the environment department decides, the appeal argues.

In September, Quebec Superior Court Judge rejected a $44-­million lawsuit by Groupe Pacific against Montreal claiming that the city had engaged in a “disguised expropriation” to block a proposed 1,600-unit housing project on the Meadowbrook site.

Groupe Pacific was demanding $28.5 million for the value of the land, and another $15 million for lost potential profits. Meadowbrook Groupe Pacific, a subsidiary of Groupe Pacific, bought the land in 2006 for $3 million.

In 2015, the city of Montreal designated its portion of the Meadowbrook site as “large green space or recreational,” marking a victory for conservationists who had battled for a quarter­-century to preserve the site from development.

Côte­ St-­Luc zoned its portion of the site as recreational in 2000.

mscott@postmedia.com

Could CSL vCOP, PS and Police host summer camp for kids? Longueuil police host first ever camp for aspiring young detectives

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A group of kids took part in a day camp put on by the Longueuil police this week, where they got to learn about police work. (CBC)

What a novel idea in summer programming for kids. Sign up a group of pre-teens and expose them to first responders: police, fire, EMS, ambulance, public security and volunteer Citizens on Patrol. Teach them essential skills and expose them to these critical and life-saving services. Excite, inspire and educate them.

Would such a program be possible in Cote Saint-Luc and suburban Montreal municipalities? Would you sign up your pre-teen?

Source: Longueuil police host first ever camp for aspiring young detectives | CBC News

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