By Kevin Woodhouse
It is not uncommon for soft drink and fast food corporations, that rake in millions in profit every year, to still spend millions on advertising ensuring that consumers are well aware of their product and where it can be sold.
The grassroots organization, Train de l’Ouest, created by former West Island CLD chief Georges Nydam and former Lac St. Louis MP Clifford Lincoln, has been able to brand itself and its message in the past years with a simple request: improve public transportation by dedicating rail tracks solely for commuters from Vaudreuil to the city of Montreal.
And with the use of volunteers, the backing of West Island and area mayors, Premier Philippe Couillard as well as West Island MNAs Geoffrey Kelley and Treasury Board president Martin Coiteux and Finance Minister Carlos Leitão, Train de l’Ouest has been able to get its concerns addressed.
Although it has not been easy having to deal with three separate transport ministers and the PQ government that virtually shelved the commuter rail project with an estimated price tag of one billion dollars.
“According to statistics, the province has spent $170 million on the Vaudreuil-Hudson line between 1989 and 2011 or less than $10 million a year,” Lincoln told The Suburban. “In the past few years, $671 million was spent for the Train de l’Est and another $500 million for the Deux Montagnes line. Maybe now it is our turn to ask as citizens out here that we deserve proper funding, especially since 50 percent of most West Island taxpayers’ revenue goes towards the agglomeration of Montreal.”
Lincoln has asked to meet with Coiteux, Kelley and Leitão early in the new year to get the project back on track. And while the grassroots organization is conscious that the province is going through a period of austerity, the idea is to get a commitment beyond the $22 million feasibility study commissioned by the Liberal government.
Phase one of the project, at a cost of about $100 million, would be the creation of a trench at the Montreal West station. “We need the Train de l’Ouest to be on the MTQ’s priority list and listed as an official project,” Lincoln told The Suburban.
And while the cupboard might be near empty for the province’s finances, Leitão told The Suburban after he received his ministerial post that “election commitments made for the West Island like Train de l’Ouest and more funding for the Lakeshore General Hospital will not be forgotten.”
“Unless it gets the full go ahead, Train de l’Ouest could suffer from more delays and studies so our aim is to make sure it is on,” said Lincoln.