We are currently witnessing a standoff between the federal government and the Quebec government over the financing of the structuring transit network of the City of Quebec. This negotiation, taking place now in the public square, is not moving towards a win-win solution.
The nature of current bargaining is above all bureaucratic, and it is the citizens of Quebec who risk losing out.
However, both levels of government have in their hands all the tools they need to arrive quickly at a solution and put the project into budgets.
The federal transit funding program is based on current ridership, a method that favors cities that already have strong transit services. Until recently, Quebec City was the only major city in the country not to have structuring public transit projects. How to get out of the bottom of the ranking when the program keeps us there? A first avenue would be to review the criteria. Not easy, but feasible.
The federal government could also find the money elsewhere. Nothing prevents it. It is not uncommon that on the eve of an election, there are budgeted but unused, sometimes even imposing amounts. In any case, $ 5.2 billion over ten years for public transit projects in Quebec is clearly insufficient!
The Quebec government could take the missing money in various envelopes. Part of the envelope of the federal government’s Green Infrastructure Fund could, for example, qualify for financing the structuring network, as suggested by the City of Quebec on March 7. Also, given that the federal envelope is only $ 5.2 billion for the moment, the Quebec government could invest more in certain projects and allow the implementation of currently planned projects and those to come.
Money is also in the budget surpluses and in the Green Fund. The Quebec government could also decide to pay a larger share of the Quebec City project. He has the technical and financial opportunity to do so. In fact, the funding rules of its programs allow it to pay up to 100% of public transit projects.
In short, money, there is at both levels of government, that is not the problem. To break the impasse in which Quebec and Ottawa have fallen, there is no political will.
And the citizens of Quebec City can no longer wait for new delays in the realization of the structuring network of public transit of the City of Quebec. The governments of Quebec and Canada must therefore stop camping in their respective positions and quickly confirm the funding of this one, as soon as the next budgets in Ottawa as in Quebec City.
It is the actions that will measure the real commitment of governments. In the context of the climate emergency we are experiencing, it is essential to see the realization of the structuring network of public transit of the City of Quebec. This project is one of the most advanced in this field in Quebec and is a direct and ambitious response to this emergency. This is a national priority in Quebec.