May Street is a quiet two-block road that straddles the southwest side of the current Champlain Bridge.
The homes there are an average of 100 years old, built decades before the bridge was even a blip on city planners’ radars. May Street is in one of the oldest parts of Verdun.
This week the street’s residents found out their homes will be torn down.
Homes built before 1900
Iris Doyle has lived on May Street for 14 years, in a house built in 1898. It’s the only home her two children have ever known.
She found out about the expropriation on Facebook after a neighbour posted the news before she’d had a chance to check her mail.
“It's always been a possibility. I've thought about it before, but I was hoping that it wouldn't happen,” Doyle said. “I was hoping they wouldn’t need to tear our houses down.”
She said she had been planning on staying in the house for the rest of her life.
“For me, of course, it’s priceless. It’s a house that I love. I really love my house. It’s an old house that has lots of charm, lots of character. We’ve worked on it a lot. There have been a lot of renovations that went into it. We’ve made it exactly how we want it, so it’s hard,” Doyle said.
She said it would be very unlikely that she’d get the kind of expropriation money from the federal government that really reflects the value of the house. The home is close to the water, LaSalle Metro station and steps from downtown, and Doyle said that’s hard to beat.
According to the city’s property assessment database, the homes and the land they’re on are worth upwards of $250,000.
Federal government said no expropriations
Verdun Mayor Jean-François Parenteau said he was involved in expropriation talks for several months, but had signed a confidentiality agreement preventing him from disclosing the impending evictions with the residents of May Street.
He said it was unfortunate that the people living in the 16 homes on May Street would have to move, but that the new Champlain Bridge was very important for the borough and the city’s development. He said there was nothing that could be done — the on-ramp has to be built over that street.
“That’s for sure that the people will be expropriated,” Parenteau said.
Meanwhile, NDP transport critic and the MP for Brossard-La Prairie Hoang Mai said his party asked the Conservative government several times whether there would be any expropriations.
He said they were told “no” every time.
He said he spoke to residents of May Street this weekend after the news broke about what they wanted to do. He said a number of them told him they’d already fought evictions in the past by arguing that the homes have historic value, and that they would like to fight this one too.