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Meadowbrook may be too close to Lachine rail

By Joel Goldenberg

A planned $119 million train maintenance facility to be built by the Agence métropolitaine de transport in Lachine in the near future would increase rail activity close to the Lachine side of the Meadowbrook golf course, where development is planned, says Côte St. Luc councillor Dida Berku. But AMT spokesperson Martine Rouette denies this will be the case, saying it merely represents a change in who will be responsible for maintenance of the trains. Despite repeated calls, Groupe Pacific was not available for comment at press time Tuesday afternoon.

Les Amis de Meadowbrook, the organization which seeks to prevent the development of the golf course for housing, held a press conference last week to urge the public to join the group at Montreal city hall, when it will raise the issue of preservation with Mayor Gérald Tremblay and members of Montreal council. Berku said Monday night city hall may have a response to the Labrecque Commission, which recommended protecting Meadowbrook. Les Amis de Meadowbrook recently held a public meeting in which speakers said Montreal would be targeted in its campaign, rather than developer Groupe Pacific. They believe Groupe Pacific is readying plans for development and that it has informed Quebec that Montreal has granted permission for building on the Lachine side — the Côte St. Luc side was rezoned as a golf course. Groupe Pacific has denied informing Quebec of this.

But what caught Berku’s attention was news this past February of a three-year $34 million contract the AMT signed with Bombardier to maintain its three Canadian Pacific commuter train lines to prevent delays, and a plan to build a $119 maintenance facility in Lachine for the Dorion-Rigaud, Blainville-St. Jérôme and Delson-Candiac lines. She and others anticipate that an increased number of train cars will not only be using the three commuter lines, but moving in and out and being repaired the planned facility.

Berku said the current Sortin yard is due west from Montreal West’s Toe Blake Park, across the golf course, 200 metres away. “There are hundreds of cars on that line, and they’re all going to be repaired and maintained in Lachine,” the councillor said last week. “It’s going to greatly intensify the activity in the Lachine Sortin yards — those are official railroad yards.

“If we were in Ontario, according to their municipal guidelines, you couldn’t build within 300 metres of those yards. Unfortunately, Quebec hasn’t adopted these, but we have adopted a safe setback guideline of 300 metres through an agreement between the Canadian Railway Association and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. So the Ontario municipal guidelines only apply to us through this agreement.

“This railway yard is going to be very busy — hundreds and thousands of cars are going to be shunted there in the morning and at night.”

Rouette, of the AMT, told The Suburban Tuesday that it is too soon to tell now when the $119 million facility will be built, and that while Bombardier will handle maintenance for the next three years, a call for tenders will go out to other interested companies whenever the facility is built. Another maintenance centre will be built in Point St. Charles. Rouette said the AMT bought 160 new cars and ordered 20 bi-modal locomotives. She confirmed that the new Lachine facility will be where the current Sortin yard is.

“But there won’t be more activity [by Bombardier or in the new facility],” Rouette said. “The maintenance is already being done there, so there won’t be more activity. The only difference is that Canadian Pacific will not be doing the maintenance on the equipment — they don’t want to do it, so we have to equip it to do the maintenance ourselves. Our rolling stock is increasing, but it’s only AMT activity.” Rouette said she would have to confirm if there will be more commuter train traffic.

“But I don’t think so because the departures would be the same.”


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