Parc crossing soon to be a reality

Construction of Ogilvy/de Castelnau passage officially starts

Construction has officially started at the Ogilvy/de Castelnau crossing at the Parc Exo station. Photo: Borough of Villeray—Saint-Michel—Parc-Extension

After months of reassurance from both city and borough officials that it would be built, construction has officially started at the Ogilvy/de Castelnau crossing at the Parc Exo station. This comes after many citizens pressured city officials to take up the cause. 

Crews first arrived on Oct. 25 and began work by dismantling old poles blocking access to the passage. Although the project aims to link Villeray with Parc-Extension via a crossing across the tracks, access will remain blocked until construction wraps up in early December.

The crossing attracted widespread anger and frustration among residents on both sides of the tracks when it was fenced off by station operator Exo in mid-may. Residents have petitioned and protested to have the passage reopened ever since.

“The repair of approach surfaces and the installation of markings on the ground to better secure pedestrian movements when approaching the crossing,” 

Officially started

The contract for the crossings’ construction was awarded by the city centre in early October to Salvex Inc., the sole applicant on the project, for the price of $509,914. Many in the community later said that the price was exorbitant and unnecessary, adding that all that needed to be done was to remove the fence. 

The project comprises a large-scale revamp of the crossing, much of which is located on land owned by the Canadian Pacific Railway. “The repair of approach surfaces and the installation of markings on the ground to better secure pedestrian movements when approaching the crossing,” is one aspect of the project according to a statement released by the borough. 

According to the same statement, safety infrastructure such as bollards and signs will also be installed, indicating to cyclists to get off their bikes. The passage aims to open up Parc-Extension to the rest of the city, long isolated due to physical barriers like Highway 40 to the north and train tracks to the east and south.

The crossing remains closed until further notice and monitored by security guards. Photo: Matias Brunet-Kirk – NEWSFIRST


At the site itself, workers have since taken down the previously erected fence and torn away much of the old asphalt that covered both the south end of the platform and the approach to it. 

Salvex Inc. has begun work on pouring new concrete between both sides and will subsequently paint it and put up the safety infrastructure and signage stipulated in the cities requirements. Construction is estimated to last about one month, according to a statement by the borough.

The passage itself is part of the larger revitalization project for the area, namely the Plan de développement urbain, économique et social (PDUES) des secteurs Marconi-Alexandra, Atlantic, Beaumont et De Castelnau which includes the MIL Université de Montréal science campus.

Citizen pushback

While some have welcomed the construction of the long-awaited passage, others say it comes much too late and with a far higher cost than what was necessary. In 2019 Canadian Pacific was ordered by the Ministry of Transport to allow the City of Montreal to construct two crossings over its lines, at both Ogilvy and de l’Épée.

It has since taken two years of debate between stakeholders and city officials to get the project officially cleared and constructed. 

Many residents and habitual users of the passage have taken to social media over the past months to complain of what they see as unnecessary measures to open up the gate. “This is not a project, everything already exists, you just have to remove the fence,” wrote Alain Piccand on the Facebook group Ouvrons la voie – Make way.

The crossing is set to open to the public at the start of December 2021. Photo: Matias Brunet-Kirk – NEWSFIRST

Electoral jostling

Some claim this is an attempt to gain votes by the current city administration led by Valérie Plante. Residents were given further reason to believe that last week when Projet Montréal Borough Mayoral candidate Laurence Lavigne-Lalonde along with City Councillor candidate Genviève Morency posted on social media about the new crossing. 

“Projet Montréal is proud to announce a pedestrian and cyclist crossing, between Ogilvy and De Castelnau, which will be universally accessible,” read a post published on candidate Geneviève Morency’s Facebook page. “One more step towards the decompartmentalization of Parc-Extension,” it continued.

But the post was met with a groundswell of pushback from community activists and residents alike, deploring what they said was a te candidate appropriating a cause for political gain. “Fully predictable that they would use this for political ends,” wrote Susan Keys on the post, adding “these people take us for idiots.”

A few hours later, Morency issued corrections along with apologies to those who brought the issue up. “I would like to apologize to you since the purpose of this publication was to announce the start of the work and not to give myself credit for this long civic work behind this passage,” she wrote.