Thursday, 24 Sep 2020

Concerned residents head to Court of Appeal in bid to halt REM project

A group of Montreal-area residents is determined to halt the Réseau express métropolitain (REM) light-rail train project and they claim the venture should be more environmentally friendly.

They appeared before the Quebec Court of Appeal Friday in an effort to reverse a Quebec Superior Court decision last December that dismissed the group’s efforts to delay the REM construction.

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“I’m concerned about the impact that this project will have on our emissions in Montreal, particularly due to urban sprawl,” said Matthew Chapman from Trainsparence.

The group argues consultations on the REM project were inadequate.

“The meaningful hearings on the environment are a fundamental constitutional right, which is attached to our fundamental constitutional right to a healthy environment,” the group’s lawyer Campbell Stuart tells Global News.

He also say that the Quebec government should not have allowed the project to go ahead, after the province’s environmental review agency slammed it.

“That institution clearly demonstrated that this project did not provide the details necessary to evaluate it,” said Chapman.

The Quebec Superior Court disagreed with the groups’ positions and rejected a motion hoping to block construction of the light-rail project.

“The judgement by Judge [Michel] Yergeau showed serious bias against the citizens and in favour of the government,” said Stuart.

They are now waiting for the decision of their appeal and if it rules in their favour several things could happen.

“They could send it back to the superior court to be re-heard,” Stuart said. “They could send it back to the [Bureau d’audience publique sur l’environnement] BAPE to have proper hearings.”

The court could also order a suspension of the project until hearings are completed.

The Quebec Court of Appeal could rule against the group’s arguments that there is a fundamental right to a healthy environment and meaningful hearings on potential threats to a healthy environment.

“These are not issues we’re going to let go,” Stuart said. “Whatever happens.”

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