Federal Minister of Transport Marc Garneau was greeted by a difficult question at the 10th Global Infrastructure Leadership Forum in Montreal: should bridges in Montréal charge tolls?
It was a subject that Garneau clearly was not expecting to discuss at the Forum, following formal remarks that focused on increased investments, making trade corridors more robust, and the opportunities coming as a result of the Canadian Infrastructure Bank.
Garneau opened by discussing the importance of federally-supported projects like the $4.2 billion Champlain Bridge in Montréal, a site that forum delegates will have the opportunity to tour later this week. He stressed how projects like the Champlain Bridge allow Canada to move goods produced here in a safe, timely, and reliable manner, giving Canada a competitive advantage over other global markets.
Garneau also spoke at length about the creation of the new Canada Infrastructure Bank and how the use of private funding will help free up public funds to create additional public sector infrastructure projects needed across the country. He stressed that the federal government “will not impose the bank on any partners,” insisting that the bank will be another tool to create needed infrastructure.
The question regarding tolls, posed by a local university professor, asked whether or not the tolling of Montréal’s bridges is an unavoidable reality. Garneau pointed out that the Liberal government had taken the stance that, since the Champlain Bridge project reflects the replacement of an existing bridge where tolls were not already collected, that new tolls should not be introduced. However, he did state that should a new bridge or tunnel be created, one that provided a new service or access for its users, that the concept of tolling would again be discussed.
Check out ReNew Canada’s complete coverage of the 10th Global Infrastructure Leadership Forum in Montréal:
VIA pitches high-frequency rail project
Cross-border power projects on the rise
Solving America’s infrastructure deficit
Does the U.S. need an Infrastructure Commission?