Notre Dame/Curé Labelle shutdown draws flack from nearby businesses

Busy Chomedey intersection to be closed a month (at least) for water and sewer pipe work

It happened so fast, it was like night and day.

That’s how quickly the corner of Notre Dame and Curé Labelle – probably Chomedey’s busiest intersection – was transformed over the past week-and-a-half into an impassable no man’s land, as the City of Laval began work on a long-awaited storm drain and water main replacement project.

Water and sewer pipes

The work includes replacement of a 200-mm drinking water main with a pipe measuring 400 mm to allow better water flow in the neighbourhood, and the addition of a second sewer water drain to provide greater protection against sudden and extreme storm flooding.

According to l’Abord-à-Plouffe city councillor Vasilios Karidogiannis, the intersection could remain closed as late as June 24, or at least for the next month, he told the Laval News.

Once the intersection reopens, the epicentre of the project will shift a block west to the corner of Notre Dame and Jarry, which is expected to be at least partly closed over the coming summer.

This was waiting after return

For Ian Williams, the staff social worker at Agape social services on Notre Dame (a stone’s throw from the centre of the carnage), his first day back at work full-time following a pandemic-related furlough was a shock when he saw the transformation of the intersection.

“This is going to be problematic for us,” he said in an interview last Friday, noting that parents who bring their children to the daycare could have trouble getting in and out because of the numerous detours they’ll now have to navigate.

“A lot of them come in off Autoroute 15, and some from Autoroute 13, and this is definitely going to be a factor,” Williams added, noting that he and other people assumed the work was completed last year when the city carried out some preliminary aspects on the street outside the Senior Wellness Centre.

Making life complicated

He said staff at the Agape Senior Wellness Centre, located a block away on the east side of Curé Labelle, had recently been in the middle of a move, and the street closure would only complicate things for them further.

On a personal note, he said that driving his son to a nearby school is now much harder. “At a time of day when everyone is so busy, it just adds minutes to the drive in and creates more headaches,” said Williams.

A block east on Notre Dame, Giannoula Chinis, owner of the Oneiro II children’s wear boutique, had plenty of reason to be angry about the shutdown of the intersection, considering it’s just the latest of aggravations related to the sewer infrastructure.

A longstanding problem

As reported by the Laval News in February 2016, the boutique dealt with a series of floods since the late 1990s, which destroyed tens of thousands of dollars of merchandise stored in her business’s basement. And she wasn’t the only business on that stretch of Notre Dame that was impacted.

Despite efforts by the City of Laval to correct the situation, lakes of water continued to accumulate outside on Notre Dame whenever there was a heavy rainfall, because the sewer system was inadequate to deal with storm surges. The latest work that has shut the corner of Notre Dame and Curé Labelle will hopefully fix the problem permanently.

Still, she remains frustrated that the corrective work is taking so long. “What I don’t understand is that they fixed this side of the street, they closed it for so many months, and now they’re here again,” she said, pointing to the shut intersection.

Was promised five years ago

Saying that the city had promised to fix the situation five years ago, she was even less than impressed now given the delay. “They promised us that before 2016 the problem would be fixed because they had government funding,” she said, while acknowledging that the city probably did improve things by installing an underground storm water collector last year near the corner of Thomas Chapais St.

‘What I don’t understand is that they fixed this side of the street, they closed it for so many months, and now they’re here again,’ says one discouraged local business owner

At Pizza Morado, another nearby Notre Dame Blvd. business now partly cut off from the street by safety barriers, a long-time employee expressed overall displeasure with the situation. “This has been going on for such a long time – why is it taking so long?” he said, referring to last year’s disruptions as well as the latest ones.

Area growing, says Karidogiannis

In an interview, Councillor Karidogiannis said the purpose of the work is not only to address the existing floodwater problem, but also takes into account the fact that major demographic and economic growth is happening in the area.

This includes a large new multi-unit residential project now being built on the site of the former Récréathèque on the north-west side of Notre Dame and Curé Labelle, as well as dozens of units of new social housing being built at the Val-Martin housing project just east of 80th Ave.

It had to be done, says councillor

“That whole area is changing and growing,” he said. “And to accommodate all that new stuff we need to improve the underground plumbing.”

According to Karidogiannis, the work will also be helping to alleviate sewer and water supply issues elsewhere in l’Abord-à-Plouffe. “So, it’s not just for that particular area. It affects an area probably all the way down to 100th Ave. plumbing-wise.”

While admitting that the disruptions are regrettable, he said the city had no choice but to proceed, since the beginning of the work last year was disrupted by the accelerating COVID-19 pandemic.

“While I understand the frustrations of people in the neighbourhood, this is something that’s got to be done,” said Karidogiannis.