The Canada Line P-3, A Template for Graft and Corruption in Montreal

As we all should know, the Caisse is the main finical backer of the Canada Line faux P-3 and using the BC Liberal P-3 process as a template, the Caisse is now funding Montreal’s highly controversial REM light metro project.

As built, the Canada Line is a dwarf metro system that uses electrical multiple units running in pairs and with the station platforms are a mere 40 metres long (half the length of the Expo and Millennium lines), gives the Canada line roughly half, the capacity as the other two light metro lines.

Has Vancouver’s mainstream media done any investigative reporting on who owns the property along the Canada line? What profits were made and by who,by building a substandard metro.

Has there been any investigation of property deals being made on the Broadway subway? Who is making substantial profits on the $3 billion transit line?

In short, NO! Our media does not do any investigative reporting on transit issues and pretends they don’t exist.

There is more investigative reporting done by the Montreal Gazette on this one issue than the Vancouver Sun has done on the SkyTrain light metro system since it was forced upon the taxpayer in the early 80′s.

Sadly, light-metro lines are built for one reason only, land development. Translation, quick profits for political insiders, land developers and land speculators.

What is being exposed in Montreal, is kept well hidden by our media.

 

Caisse’s stake in A40 REM station troubling, probe finds

Deep financial ties in St-Laurent industrial enclave leave critics asking: Was the stop chosen to serve transit or real estate priorities?

Updated: September 23, 2019

The future A40 station of the Réseau express métropolitain will rise on a site where its builder, the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, lost money in a multi-million-dollar real estate boondoggle it tried to conceal in the mid-1990s.

But that isn’t the only thing the Caisse, the province’s largest pension fund investor, hasn’t told Quebecers about the location for the station on the $6.3-billion, 67-kilometre automated transit network it will own and operate.

Unbeknownst to the public, which is paying half of the cost to build the REM, the Caisse has been investing in the industrial enclave that surrounds the future “Station A40” for decades, an investigation by the Montreal Gazette has found.

In fact, the Caisse’s real estate ties in what’s known as the Hodge-Lebeau neighbourhood, an area hemmed in by Highways 40 and 15 and the railway tracks on the edge of St-Laurent borough, run long in terms of time span, far in terms of square footage and deep in terms of financial investment.

And yet three transportation experts consulted by the Montreal Gazette agree that the A40 stop, which the Caisse plans to shoehorn in between the existing Mont-Royal and Montpellier stations of the Deux-Montagnes rail line, isn’t even necessary. The Caisse plans the new stop as a transfer point for passengers on the Mascouche commuter train line, but the experts say the transfer can be done without adding a station.

The newspaper’s findings raise a troubling question, say critics of the REM and its model as a publicly funded, privately owned public transit project: Did the Caisse choose the path for the REM and the A40 station to serve mass transit priorities or to maximize real estate gains?

“I think there are hidden real estate interests,” said Jean-François Turcotte, a rail transportation specialist who presented a brief opposing the project at the 2016 public hearings on the REM held by the province’s independent environmental-impact assessment board, the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement.

“You can ask whether there were other places to put a transfer station. The answer is yes. And in terms of distance, it’s much too close to the Mont-Royal and Montpellier stations to have a third station. It’s not efficient.”

“Paradoxically, in the West (Island), no REM stations are planned at St-Jean and St-Charles Blvds., two major transportation corridors. No way to develop real estate in these areas, I suppose?”

No one would guess at the Caisse’s omnipresence in the Hodge-Lebeau neighbourhood to look at the sprawling lots occupied by low-rise buildings dating mostly from the 1960s and 1970s — and neither would anyone checking the current ownership of the buildings.

Yet a property search reveals the Caisse once owned about 20 buildings in the 1.5-square-kilometre enclave through numbered companies and other subsidiaries. It has also dabbled in mortgage-lending on some others.

The records also reveal the Caisse transitioned in the late 1990s from ownership to background involvement as a mortgage lender or shareholder — or both — for the area’s two most prolific building owners.

Cominar Real Estate Investment Trust, one of the largest owners of non-residential properties in Canada, owns a numbered company that in turn owns nine of the properties that once belonged to the Caisse on the east side of the Deux-Montagnes railway tracks that cleave through the neighbourhood. The holdings include a row of buildings on Deslauriers St., directly across the street from the future station that will straddle the tracks.

The Caisse, meanwhile, owns a nearly five per cent stake in the publicly traded Cominar.

The Caisse sold the Deslauriers buildings to Dundee Real Estate in 1999 and financed Dundee’s purchase. Cominar became the owner in 2012.

The other major owner in the enclave is Olymbec, a private company with properties across Quebec and Canada. The Caisse financed Olymbec’s purchase of nine buildings in the enclave, most of them on Stinson and Hodge Sts. and on Montpellier Blvd. on the west side of the tracks, in 1996, 1997 and 1999.

Olymbec received new financing in 2016 and 2017 from the Caisse and its mortgage-lending subsidiary, Otéra Capital, for all but one of the buildings.

Olymbec also bought a building on the west side without Caisse financing in 2015.

Besides the Olymbec properties, the Caisse has had financial interests in four other buildings on the west side of the tracks near the future A40 station that its subsidiary, CDPQ Infra Inc., will build for the REM.

And SNC-Lavalin, which counts the Caisse as its largest shareholder, also owns a building in the Hodge-Lebeau enclave, on the east side. SNC-Lavalin is part of the consortium that won the engineering and construction contracts for the REM.

The upshot is that the Caisse has had financial interests in 37 buildings in the neighbourhood over the years, about one-third of all of the properties in the area.

Currently, the Caisse has financial interests in 18 buildings in the enclave through its mortgage-lending and shares in companies, including properties that are as close as can be to the future A40 station without being expropriated for it.

In real estate parlance, that’s known as “synergy.”

And a major redevelopment of the enclave tied to the REM is indeed being quietly planned, the Montreal Gazette has learned.

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Comments

2 Responses to “The Canada Line P-3, A Template for Graft and Corruption in Montreal”
  1. Voix de Montréal says:

    Une telle mauvaise décision et pleine de corruption.

    Un des nos plus fervents partisans du suicide, l’un de nos plus fervents partisans de l’amélioration des transports en commun à Montréal.

    Merde

  2. Emma says:

    The stations on the Canada line is a bad design with no way to add longer trains to reduce overcrowding during peak hours. During Non peak hours, the trains are not too crowded. The worst time to ride the canada line is 3-5:30pm.

    As per the ownership of the land under or over the Canada line. It is built under the street in Vancouver. So City of Vancouver owns the land. Some of the stations are on commercial property like Vancouver city centre. Broadway station is on City land. Airport branch line is YVR land. Through Richmond, Canada line is over the street. The Terminus station in Richmond is built into a development. Same with Aberdeen station.

    The future stations planned will be built into developments like at Langara in Vancouver and Capstan way in Richmond.

    If Canada line had platforms longer than 100 metres like any other proper subway, then It would have been perfect.

    Overall, the Canada line is great in reducing travel time from Richmond. Not it takes 25 minutes instead of the 60 minutes it used to take with the #98 bus.

    Did you know that Canada line is free on Sea Island? Free between Templeton and YVR stations, only 3 stations. There is free parking near Templeton station. Convenient if picking up people at airport.

    Zwei replies:

    1) As peer the platform lengths this was done to reduce cost. There was not the ridership to justify the investment for a metro and/or a light metro.
    2) Reducing travel time in Richmond from? Yes, I can see a reduced travel time if one lives near a station, but I do not see any time savings for those who live away from the mini-metro line. That Translink does not use “time savings” for the Canada line propaganda, I would suspect there is none.
    3) I live in south Delta and with the 602/3/4 express buses I was able to get to downtown Vancouver in under an hour. With the Canada line, it took over an hour or about 5 to 10 minutes longer. Return journey’s are much longer and why I have stopped using the transit. There is no tangible benefit.
    4) One wonders if Translink counts the “free: journey’s on Sea Island in their ridership counts as unpaid fares should not be included, like fare evasion.

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