I was interviewed by the CBC regarding the REM (play video above) but I feel that I should elaborate more on this subject because sometimes we don’t get to voice the entire story on those short interviews and I feel that there’s a lot to be discussed about the REM in Vaudreuil-Soulanges.
This interview was partly to answer to the Mayor of Vaudreuil-Dorion Guy Pilon about his comments regarding the costs of bringing the REM to Vaudreuil-Soulanges and how he feels it’s not beneficial to Vaudreuil-Dorion and our region.
Read it here:
I strongly believe that our quality of life should be a major consideration and there are many factors that are extremely important to Vaudreuil-Soulanges residents which Mr. Pilon is not considering. So, let’s talk about THE COST OF NOT BRINGING THE REM to Vaudreuil-Soulanges and why we need it.
COST TO FAMILIES
Families in the region often need to buy a car or rent an apartment so that their kids can attend CEGEP and university on the Island. According to an MTQ/Exo study (2019), over 30% of people of Vaudreuil-Soulanges crossing the Ile aux Tourtes bridge in the morning rush hours are students.
COST OF TRAFFIC CONGESTION
A 2003 MTQ study estimates that for the Montreal region alone, there’s a cost of over $1.4 billion associated to traffic congestion. That was in 2003, we need to translate that amount into 2021 dollars. It’s enormous!
COST TO THE ENVIRONMENT
It’s clear that in order to fight climate change, we need to reduce our Green Gas Emissions. The recent IPCC report states how urgent it is to act on this! In our region, over 92% use their cars for their daily commute. The government needs to give us better and more efficient options. The REM could make all the difference. The government needs to invest in solutions to fight climate change NOW! The focus needs to be on public transit and reducing green gas emissions.
As well, according to the MRC Vaudreuil-Soulanges Plan d’action regional de reduction des émissions de GES 2020-2026, the transportation sector accounts for 76% Of GHG emissions in Vaudreuil-Soulanges compared to 44.7% in Quebec (MELCC, 2012). We have a lot of work ahead of us!
COST OF CAR OWNERSHIP
Maintaining cars (wear and tear), parking, and the cost of gas brings a huge expense to commuters that need to face traffic and cross the bridge on a regular base.
COST TO OUR QUALITY OF LIFE
Time sitting in traffic is time away from our families. Not to mention the stress and health impact traffic can cause. In the greater Montreal area in 2019, according to TomTom.com (https://www.tomtom.com/en_gb/traffic-index/montreal-traffic/), we spent an average of 131 extra hours driving in rush hour traffic.
EFFICIENT PUBLIC TRANSIT SYSTEM CAN HAVE FINANCIAL BENEFITS AS WELL
According to the Federation of Canadian municipalities (FCM), for every dollar spent on efficient public transit, $3 is generated in economic growth. The REM could have important and beneficial economic impact in the region.
Source : https://data.fcm.ca/documents/resources/building-better-lives-together.pdf
NEW VAUDREUIL-SOULANGES HOSPITAL
Projected to open in 2026, there’s a need to hire between 3000-4000 new employees for the proper functioning of the hospital. It’s known fact that people consider the ease of commuting when choosing where to work. We need to attract workers by facilitating their commute. Efficient public transit also opens the pool of qualified workers. Let’s not forget the labor shortage we’re facing. Over 15% of the hires for the new hospital will be coming from outside the country because we don’t have enough workers to fulfill our needs.
Source : https://www.journalsaint-francois.ca/le-cisssmo-envisage-recruter-a-linternational-pour-lhopital-de-vaudreuil-soulanges/
POPULATION BOOM IN VAUDREUIL-SOULANGES
According to the Institut de la Statistique du Québec, it was estimated the MRC Vaudreuil-Soulanges would increase in population by 40% between 2011-2036. We’re the 5th MRC in Quebec with the highest growth. Vaudreuil-Soulanges has a current population of 161,397 (2021) and growing. Efficient public transit needs to be planned for the future of our region.
MCGILL UNIVERSITY RESEARCH
This research says that 2 or more connections reduce greatly the satisfaction with public transport services. Public transit needs to be made efficient, easy and needs to be more advantageous than using your car. Asking people to take the bus in Vaudreuil-Dorion to reach the REM is not realistic and the government is simply setting us up for failure. People will continue using their cars if they don’t give us an efficient alternative!
THE CN-CP CORRIDOR
Although we have a commuter train, it doesn’t respond to the demand. The departures are not frequent enough, commute time is too long and there are too many stops. The priority is given to merchandise trains, not commuter trains. It’s impossible to add more service since we don’t own the rails. Our current commuter train is not reliable or efficient!
CLOSING OF ILE AUX TOURTES BRIDGE LAST MAY 2021
Last May’s events which left commuters stranded for hours trying to get on and off the island made us realize once again how dependent we are on the Ile aux Tourtes bridge. It was also evident that highway 20 can’t sustain that kind of traffic to compensate during such an event. We need an efficient and dependable alternative, so that we don’t have to live that nightmare ever again!
The Quebec government clearly invest on projects that are politically motivated and not necessarily where the needs are! As you may be aware, they’re ready to invest in a 10 billion tunnel in Quebec City. The Legault government estimates that approximately 50,000 vehicles per day will travel through the 8.3 km tunnel. In comparison, the new Ile aux Tourtes bridge will be approximately 2 km long, has over 87,000 vehicles per day and has an estimated cost of $100 million.
I had initiated a petition back in January. My intent was to ask our Soulanges MNA to present it. After getting some push back and meeting with the Ministre déléguée aux Transports Chantal Rouleau, Marilyne Picard and Louise Craig regarding the REM last June, it was clear that I needed to have an alternative strategy to push this file. That avenue wasn’t going to work!
The current petition going around was launched by a concerned citizen David Schuilenburg which is backed by Vaudreuil MNA Marie-Claude Nicholls. It’s important to bring awareness and mobilize the population in this important issue. You have until September 7th to sign the petition here: https://www.assnat.qc.ca/fr/exprimez-votre-opinion/petition/Petition-9139/index.html?
In 2019, Louise Craig and I started the REM in Vaudreuil-Soulanges Facebook page because we felt there was an opportunity that we needed to jump on, and we needed to act now! No elected officials at any level were talking about it. We still believe that no matter what the solution (using the future bridge or a separate structure), we need to bring the REM to Vaudreuil-Soulanges, it’s clear!
You can like our Facebook page here: https:/www.facebook.com/REMVaudreuilSoulanges
We can’t just think of today, we need to plan for the future now! Our government and elected officials can’t be so short sighted! With the provincial elections next year, we need to keep putting pressure on the government, so they make it a priority! Vaudreuil-Soulanges deserves better!