(Quebec) The decree authorizing the City of Quebec to go ahead with its tramway project will not ultimately provide for any conditions, the Legault government confirmed on Wednesday.
“There is no acceptability clause in the decrees”, confirmed the Minister of Transport, François Bonnardel.
The regulatory document will authorize Quebec to issue calls for proposals for the supply of rolling stock and the construction of network infrastructure. The City will also be entitled to an additional $124 million to carry out preparatory work.
This is quite a turnaround for the Legault government. The day before, the Minister of Energy and MP for Charlesbourg, Jonatan Julien, asked that a majority of citizens support the project, and François Legault made it a condition. “Can anyone be against that, ensuring that such an important project of the City of Quebec is supported by the population? “, he said.
This rather technical stage of the public transport project found itself at the center of a political contest between the mayor of Quebec, Bruno Marchand, and the Legault government. Two weeks ago, the CAQ demanded the abandonment of a 500-meter section of shared street on René-Lévesque Boulevard, in the heart of the city. “The shared street concept worries me a lot. The regional vision, the mayor of the City of Quebec seems to have forgotten it,” said the Minister of Transport. He made it a condition for financing the tramway. Minister François Bonnardel said at the time that three new conditions would be included in the decree: a regional vision, the withdrawal of the shared street concept and the question of funding with the federal government.
But it was above all a declaration by his colleague from the Council of Ministers, Éric Caire, that caught the eye: “The mayor of Quebec says that he does not want to wage a war on the automobile, when he proves it and that he stops polluting the existence of drivers with projects like that, ”he said before retracting.
This week, Prime Minister François Legault had thrown ballast by saying that Mayor Bruno Marchand would only have to demonstrate the social acceptability of the project. The rollback was completed Wednesday with an unconditional executive order. The minister responsible for the Capitale-Nationale, Geneviève Guilbault, even threw flowers at Mr. Marchand. “I see him go, then I find he’s good, then I find he struggles, then I find he does what he has to do. He’s doing what he said he would do, and I want it to work,” she said.
Above all, it should not be seen as a defeat of the Quebec Caucus caucus, which has always been critical of the project launched by the administration of Régis Labeaume, said Ms.me Guilbault. “There are people who don’t want a tram. They call us, they write to us. There are people who want a tram. It means that we try to navigate through it all, to take into account all points of view. Then the key, the solution to this dynamic, is to increase acceptability, to increase support for the tramway, and for that, the mayor is already at work, then there is no one who can challenge the energy he puts into it. So I have confidence that he will succeed,” said the MNA for Louis-Hébert.
The mayor of Quebec Bruno Marchand said he was very happy with this outcome. “Whether the mayor of Quebec wins, who cares, that’s not what’s important. [L’important], it is that we are moving forward in this project, ”he said in a press briefing. He stressed that he would continue to work to improve the social acceptability of the project.
Mr. Marchand sees this as a triumph of municipal autonomy. “It is not up to the Government of Quebec to choose elements such as the shared path. It reiterates the competence of cities in the development of our territory, ”he said. He points out that the project can be carried out on schedule, with a delivery date in 2028, and without additional costs.
He praised the courage of Sylvain Lévesque, Caquiste deputy for Chauveau, who took the tram out earlier in the day “despite the circumstances”. His opponent, the leader of the Conservative Party of Quebec Éric Duhaime, will campaign against this project. “It deserves to be highlighted,” said the mayor of Quebec. He also asks the Legault government to continue to carry the torch of public transit very high. “I am counting on the government, and the Prime Minister has been very clear, to be on the right side of the boat, to be able to say that this is where we are going. […] to promote it. I think my expectations are clear and I hope that from now on, we will be united and that we will do body and soul to move this project forward. »
Mr. Duhaime wasted no time in displaying his colors. On social networks, he accused the CAQ of going ahead “with its bad tramway project, without any social acceptability”. “He gives the green light to the most expensive project in the history of Quebec despite the fact that the majority of the population of the Capitale-Nationale does not want it,” he denounced.