Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Amarjeet Sohi has released a statement based on the findings of an Auditor General’s performance audit on the replacement of the Champlain Bridge.

The report stated that Infrastructure Canada “did not plan the replacement of the existing Champlain Bridge in a cost effective manner.” According to the findings, the lack of proper planning for the bridge replacement cost the federal government more than $500 million, as well as costs incurred by the local economy in Montreal.

Here is the full statement from Minister Sohi:

“I thank the Auditor General and his staff for their work in examining one of North America’s largest infrastructure projects. I acknowledge the findings following the 2017 audit and confirm we are already taking steps to implement the report’s recommendations for further strengthening lifecycle management of federal bridges and enhancing procurement and contract management for future infrastructure projects.

The Government of Canada’s priority is to deliver a quality, toll-free new Champlain Bridge as soon as possible without compromising the safety of workers and the public, and ensuring sound management of taxpayers’ money.

The procurement of critical infrastructure such as the new Champlain Bridge requires long term planning and transparency at the earliest stages of a project to account for the full scope of a project and its costs. It is clear from the Auditor General’s report that the previous government waited too long to decide to replace the existing bridge, and made its decision about the procurement model based on inadequate information. This effectively added costs to maintaining the existing bridge and compressed the timeline for the construction of the new bridge. As of November 2015, these challenges have been clearly articulated and addressed in a transparent manner and in partnership with the private project proponent, Signature on the Saint Lawrence (SSL).

To this end, my department has worked with SSL to provide regular project updates. At the most recent, earlier this spring, we outlined the settlement agreement that was reached with SSL to address a number of unforeseen issues that impacted the project schedule. We also reported on the construction progress of the bridge which is now more than 75 per cent complete and confirmed the objective to open the new Champlain Bridge to traffic on December 21, 2018.

The Champlain Bridge Corridor is a vital crossing for the tens of thousands of residents who commute between the Island of Montreal and its South Shore communities on a daily basis. It is also an integral link in Canada’s trade transportation network. Each year, more than $20 billion in goods pass over this crossing destined for Canadian, U.S. and overseas markets.

Far more than simply replacing the existing bridge, the new Champlain Bridge corridor is being designed and built to better address the region’s current and future mobility needs. It is also being built to withstand the unique climatic realities of its location. This is being achieved by working closely with all partners and stakeholders through all stages of the project to ensure its urban integration, sustainability and security.

As we continue forward with this important project we will continue to make every effort – with our private partner SSL – to ensure that the new Champlain Bridge corridor will be a source of pride for everyone in the Montreal region and a model of effective infrastructure management for Canada.”

For more information on the Auditor General’s findings, visit: http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/English/att__e_43051.html.

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