Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Minister confident Ottawa’s funding for P.E.I. road upgrades will continue | CBC News

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P.E.I.’s transportation and infrastructure minister said he’s been assured that federal funding for road improvements will continue on the Island following controversial comments from Canada’s environment minister.

Questions were raised about Ottawa’s commitment to funding road construction projects after remarks from federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault last week. 

Guilbeault suggested the federal government has decided to “stop investing in new road infrastructure,” a statement he later walked back by saying Ottawa would be putting up cash only for “large projects.”

While he was pleased that clarification came, provincial Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Ernie Hudson said the statements raised concerns about future road improvement projects in P.E.I. 

P.E.I. Transportation Minister confident federal road money will keep coming

After the federal Environment minister said Ottawa would “stop investing in new road infrastructure,” comments that he later walked back, P..E.I. Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Ernie Hudson says he’ll continue advocating for the partnership to continue.

“It’s extremely important to have that [federal] partnership, but I have to stress too that under those previous programs, all of those dollars have been committed,” Hudson told CBC P.E.I.’s Island Morning on Tuesday. 

“Right at this point, we do not have an indication from the feds with regard to what may be coming … for the provinces across the country. I will certainly continue to advocate for that.” 

Guilbeault’s comments prompted outrage from the federal Conservatives and from some provincial premiers. 

As part of the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change — which all of the provinces except Saskatchewan and Manitoba approved in December 2016 — the assembled governments agreed to a broad range of principles and goals, including a commitment to support “the shift from higher to lower-emitting types of transportation, including through investing in infrastructure.”

A bearded man in a parka stands at a podium.
Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault makes a funding announcement at the Fletcher Wildlife Garden in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2024. (Patrick Doyle/The Canadian Press)

But there’s still a long way to go between that 2016 framework and Guilbeault’s assertion that no new investments in road infrastructure will be made.

Senior officials later clarified that there are no changes to federal policies on funding roads. 

Ottawa has committed about $660 million for improvements to roads, highways and bridges on P.E.I. since 2014. 

“All of our product has to be exported across the [Confederation] Bridge by truck; we do not have a rail system. That in and of itself impacts the longevity of our roads and our bridge systems here on the Island,” Hudson said. “Our base here on the Island is primarily sandstone; it’s not granite. That as well has an impact on the longevity of our roads and highway system and our bridges.” 

Just last week, the federal and provincial governments announced joint funding of $21.4 million for 150 kilometres of road upgrades provincewide. 

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