Calgary mayor ‘can’t believe’ comments made by federal minister about not funding new road projects

Click to play video: 'Calgary mayor ‘can’t believe’ Guilbeault’s comments on road infrastructure'
Calgary mayor ‘can’t believe’ Guilbeault’s comments on road infrastructure
WATCH ABOVE: Calgary mayor Jyoti Gondek responded to Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault’s recent comments saying the federal government will stop investing in new road infrastructure – Feb 15, 2024

Jyoti Gondek, Calgary’s mayor, is the latest politician to raise concerns over comments made Monday by federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault in which he reportedly said his government “has made the decision to stop investing in new road infrastructure.”

The quotes were published by the Montreal Gazette and Guilbeault later said “of course we’re funding roads” and that he “should have been more specific” about what he was trying to say.

But when asked about the comments by a reporter in Calgary on Thursday, Gondek said she “can’t believe that statement was even made.”

“Making that kind of a public statement and not having any rationale behind it is not ministerial,” she said.

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Guilbeault made the comments while speaking to a crowd in Montreal. Two days later, when pressed by reporters about the statements, he noted his government has 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 trosième lien.”

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

Guilbeault’s comments were criticized by Opposition transport critic Mark Strahl who called them “outrageous.”

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he was “gobsmacked” while Alberta Premier Danielle Smith also responded critically to Guilbeault’s comments in a social media post.

On Wednesday, B.C. Premier David Eby said his province “is not waiting for the feds. You’ll see the early work that is already going on out there.”

Gondek said if Ottawa were ever to cut funding for new road projects, it “would literally be terrible for every municipality in this nation.”

“(If Guilbeault) wants to have conversations with local leaders and find out why we need improved roadways … we’re happy to chat with him,” she said, adding that in some cases additional roads may be planned by municipalities to make more room for transit buses.

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Gondek also noted Calgary has other considerations when planning for roads.

“(If) you talk about a place like Calgary, which is a strong inland port, and our logistics management involves air, it involves rail and it involves railways. So are you trying to cripple an inland port? Are you trying to tell us that we shouldn’t do transit properly?” she asked.

“I don’t think it was very well thought out. And for a minister that’s responsible for a major portfolio, I think he needed to be a bit more careful in what he said. And I’d love some understanding about what he meant by his comments.”

–With files from Global News’ Adam MacVicar, Naomi Barghiel and Touria Izri

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

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