Residents of Montreal’s Pointe-Saint-Charles fed up with long-delayed construction

What started as a two-year waterline replacement project along Montreal’s Grand Trunk Street in the Sud-Ouest borough has dragged on for twice that — and people in the area are fed up.”We have no explanation,” said resident Stephanie Labelle. “We don’t know where this is going, what’s happening and it just keeps on going. You call the city and they say, ‘Oh, this is going to be finished in a month’ and it ends up taking three months.”People are frustrated by that poor communication despite the borough’s promise to improve outreach last year, said Simon Paquette, with Action-Gardien, a Corporation de développement communautaire that brings together community groups in the neighbourhood of Pointe-Sainte-Charles.On the city’s website there’s a page outlining the construction project that was last updated in December 2022. The aim is to repave the street this spring, the page states.Stephanie Labelle says her two young children, aged one and three, have known nothing but construction their whole lives. (CBC)Located on Grand Trunk Street is Saint Columba House, which offers a wide range of services to the community, including an after-school program, a preschool, youth groups, a day camp and classes. There is also programming for adults and seniors, including those with physical or mental challenges.Volunteer Stephen Wells said the construction has made it difficult for adapted transport to get close to the building to drop people off who have mobility challenges.He said Saint Columba House is very busy with comings and goings and it’s “hard when you have all this construction and the kids have to be careful coming up because it’s dangerous.”Labelle said she wants city officials to understand what residents are going through.Renovations to Grand Trunk Street’s underground infrastructure were supposed to be a two-year project. Now the city says it will finish at the end of June, after four years of work. (CBC)She keeps calling the city, asking for information and isn’t able to get a clear answer, she said. Her young children, aged one and three, have only known life in front of a construction site, with heavy machinery operating throughout the day.Maja Vodanovic, executive committee member in charge of waterworks, said construction most recently stopped in February because the contractor had failed to complete the work as required. She said the contractor’s non-compliance is what led to two years of delays.”When that happens, they have to stop and redo what they did,” she said. “We don’t always know how long that’s going to take.”When it comes to keeping the citizens informed, she said there may have been a breakdown in communication between city inspectors and the borough.Maja Vodanovic, executive committee member in charge of waterworks, said when a contractor’s work is found to be non-compliant, it has to be redone. (CBC)Duroking Construction is the contractor in charge of the job and, Vodanovic said, “we hope they have everything now to finish it. So, by the end of June, it will be done.”Duroking did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.Alan DeSousa, Opposition city councillor and mayor of the Saint-Laurent borough, said the city should be considering some form of compensation for residents who have endured four years of construction because the contractor was unable to do the work properly.He said it’s unacceptable that citizens were unable to get clear answers about delays from the borough or city.”Where were the elected officials?” he said. “It’s too easy to sweep it under the rug and say, ‘Well, I’m sorry.’ In this case, it’s more than sorry. The city has to make up for it.”

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