‘Made a lot of us very nervous’: B.C. premier on Guilbeault’s infrastructure comments

Click to play video: 'B.C. premier questions what federal road funding remarks mean for ongoing projects'
B.C. premier questions what federal road funding remarks mean for ongoing projects
WATCH: Roads and infrastructure around the province and the desperate need for expansion are hot-button issues, and a source of frustration for drivers. Aaron McArthur explains why comments from the federal minister suggesting Ottawa would not be funding new road projects touched a nerve in B.C – Feb 14, 2024

Many of Metro Vancouver’s roads are currently undergoing significant upgrades but there is now some concern the federal government might not be a partner in those projects.

Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault told a crowd in Montreal on Monday that “our government has made the decision to stop investing in new road infrastructure,” according to quotes published in the Montreal Gazette.

The reaction to Guilbeault’s comments was swift. B.C. Premier David Eby said, “The province is not waiting for the feds. You’ll see the early work that is already going on out there.”

Click to play video: 'Federal environment minister ignites uproar over road project funding'
Federal environment minister ignites uproar over road project funding

In B.C., the federal government has already promised funds to upgrade Highway 1, the Massey Tunnel project and repair work and infrastructure needed in the Sumas Prairie following the devastating flooding in 2021.

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Eby said Highway 1 is a national trade corridor, not a simple road project.

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“We need the federal government to be onside for the Highway 1 expansion, we need them here for the preventative work we have to do,” he said.

Click to play video: 'B.C. premier questions what federal road funding remarks mean for ongoing projects'
B.C. premier questions what federal road funding remarks mean for ongoing projects

When pressed by reporters two days later, Guilbeault said he “should have been more specific.”

“Of course, we’re funding roads,” he said Wednesday. “We have programs to fund roads, but we have said — and maybe I should have been more specific in the past — is that we don’t have funds for large projects like the troisième lien.”

The troisième lien, or third link, refers to a highway tunnel connecting Quebec City to Lévis.

However, moving goods around B.C. remains a big component of roads and infrastructure upgrades.

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The Port of Vancouver is Canada’s busiest port and connects Canada with approximately 140 to 170 countries annually.

It enables the trade of approximately $305 billion in goods every year, sustains more than 115,000 jobs and generates nearly $12 billion in annual GDP across Canada.

Click to play video: 'Highway 1 widening project will be delayed'
Highway 1 widening project will be delayed

Bridgette Anderson, president and CEO of the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade told Global News that B.C. has experienced unprecedented population growth.

“We need infrastructure for the unprecedented population growth we have in this region,” she said. “Three hundred thousand people in the last two years with many, many more expected to come.

“We need federal funding dollars for infrastructure for the movement of goods and people.”

Eby said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau needs to clarify the comments made.

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“I understand the federal environment minister has tried to clarify his comments,” Eby said. “It would be good to understand from the federal government and to have some clear commitments, a recommitment to the promises they made to us around this essential infrastructure because these comments have obviously made a lot of us very nervous.”

Trudeau said his government’s policy on contributing to infrastructure projects remains unchanged.

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