Guilbault, foot on the accelerator for Quebec

“In Quebec, it is high time that we deliver,” says an editorial interview with Sun the Minister of Transport and Sustainable Mobility.

A little over a month before the submission of the conclusions of the subsidiary of the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, the pressure is mounting and there are numerous questions regarding the Legault government’s transport game plan in the Quebec region.

Since the mega tram project was put on hold at the beginning of November, just like the third link, the mayors of Quebec and Lévis have been urging the government to launch the work as soon as the analysis by CDPQ Infra is completed.

“I agree, the important thing is to deliver projects.”

— Geneviève Guilbault, Minister of Transport and Sustainable Mobility

At the end of a difficult week, during which municipal officials accused her of lacking, Geneviève Guilbault insists that she has a vision. And that this will have a sequel, quickly.

Once the CDPQ Infra report lands on her desk, Ms. Guilbault is committed to “delivering the projects that will be in it”. Both for inter-river mobility and for structuring transportation in Quebec.

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The mayor of Quebec accused the Minister of Transport of only having eyes for the development of the road network. (Stéphane Champagne/La Voix de l’Est)

If she is clear on this, the horizon she agrees to do so, however, remains unclear. He will first need to take the time to review the proposed projects. And analyze them. Then, finally, proceed.

“What’s in it will still have a certain impact on what happens next. There will perhaps still be decisions to be made or clarifications to be made,” she says.

Quebec “tired” of waiting

Knowing that we have been talking about “the same issues for years,” the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) shares its desire to move forward more quickly in transportation. Geneviève Guilbault only has words for her new agency to be born, which will serve, she says, to remedy the shortcomings in carrying out major public transport projects, “too long, too complicated and too expensive”.

“We have four years to do things, I don’t have time to take care of 56 peripheral matters. People pay us with public funds to deliver things. With the capacities that we already have, combined with those that we are going to give ourselves, we will finally have all the means to be able to deliver to Quebec, among others,” she notes.

“In Quebec, perhaps even more than elsewhere, they are tired of waiting, so I want us to deliver.”

— Geneviève Guilbault, Minister of Transport and Sustainable Mobility

“All kinds of deals” already done

Aware of the growing impatience of the population and regional elected officials, the Deputy Prime Minister, however, rejects any involvement by the government in deliberately extending deadlines and exploding the costs of the structuring transport network. Invoice and reports for which the mayor of Quebec holds her responsible.

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Minister Guilbault wants the conclusions of the CDPQ Infra to be followed up as quickly as possible. (Caroline Grégoire/The Sun)

The impasse in which the tramway found itself, she repeats, can be explained by “a situation beyond our control” caused by the absence of a bidder for the project’s largest contract. “We were waiting for the final financial offers and they did not come.”

It is also wrong to say, she defends, that no project has been successful in the capital since the election of the CAQ six years ago. “I did phase 3 of the Samuel-De Champlain promenade, the Mosaïcultures. We did all kinds of deals.”

Do “the best”

But in the tramway file, the Minister of Transport maintains that bringing the project back to the analysis stage constituted the best solution in the context. Even more so, she maintains, that plan B proposed by the City of Quebec, in the absence of a bidder to build the tramway infrastructure, amounted to 8.4 billion for a 19.3 km route.

“I think the best thing, at this stage, was to start from the beginning, to entrust it to CDPQ Infra, which already has the credibility and which already has to its credit having delivered a REM. The REM, at 7.9, 8 billion – we’ll see how much it ends up being – it’s 67 km,” compares Geneviève Guilbault.

It will then remain to be seen who will be crowned the project manager of the megaproject. The Depository? The transport agency? The City of Quebec and its Tramway Project Office?

“Too early” to say it, according to the minister, who however shows little enthusiasm in the face of the latest scenario.

“Would the Caisse de dépôt be interested in carrying it out subsequently? These are discussions that we will have with them. But otherwise, it is sure that it is obvious that insofar as we are going to have our new specialized team [à l’agence]everything that the Fund does not do, could theoretically go to this team,” she raises.

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