Martin C. Barry
Some of the tens of billions of dollars in infrastructure investment money promised by Justin Trudeau during last year’s election campaign could soon start flowing into Laval and other parts of the country, according to Marc-Aurèle-Fortin Liberal MP Yves Robillard.
Pleased with turnout
In preparation for the federal budget expected in March, Robillard held a consultation meeting on Feb. 10 at the Gabrielle Roy branch of the City of Laval library network on Dagenais Blvd. Robillard and his team issued a statement afterwards saying they were pleased with the turnout as well as the feedback they obtained from those who attended.
“Our government committed itself to listen to the citizens and our preparations for the 2016 federal budget reflect that,” Robillard said. “Together we talked about what means should be taken to stimulate our economy to improve things for the middle class and to make our community a place where it’s good to live.”
City councillors attended
Among those attending were several Laval city councillors, including independent councillor for Fabreville Michel Trottier and Mouvement Lavallois councillor for Auteuil Jocelyne Frédéric-Gauthier. Both expressed satisfaction with the openness of the proceedings, which they said represented a shift in attitude on the part of local MPs since the election of the Trudeau government last October.
According to a commitment made by Justin Trudeau during the campaign, the Liberals would make what they call “the largest new infrastructure investment in Canadian history” – nearly $125 billion over ten years, and nearly double what the Conservative government was spending. The program would include dedicated funding to provinces, territories and municipalities for public transit, social housing and environmental infrastructure needs.
Federal infrastructure money
Two weeks ago, the Trudeau government announced that Alberta will be immediately receiving a $700 million package of infrastructure funding from Ottawa to assist the oil-rich province during a time when its economy is suffering seriously from low petroleum prices. The funding had previously been promised by the former Conservative government but had apparently never been released.
In an interview with the Laval News, Robillard suggested that an even larger amount of funding will be heading in Quebec’s way during the current year. He said $1.5 billion remains to be distributed in the province from a federal government commitment dating to 2015 and which was part of the budget for that year.
“For us $1.5 billion is a big investment for Quebec,” said Robillard. “But, of course, the projects that qualify for some of this will have to be structured projects. There are some we are already hearing about which are sports-related projects. Others involve road infrastructure. But I think the important thing for us will be that this $1.5 billion is evenly distributed.”
Fabrose soccer stadium
Robillard was not as certain as to how much of the amount the Laval region will be receiving. However, he did speak of one project in particular in the Fabreville area whose supporters have been clamoring to receive financial support for some time: the proposed construction of a $6 million outdoor soccer complex to serve mainly the Club de Soccer Fabrose.
While remaining coy about the federal commitment to the project, Robillard did say that “it would also serve the needs of Vimont-Auteuil.” He said he is currently working on the project in conjunction with local provincial Liberal MNA Jean Habel in Sainte-Rose and Vimont Liberal MNA Jean Rousselle, as well as federal Liberal MP for Laval-Les Îles Fayçal El-Khoury.
“The project is coming along very well, but now we need to have a coordination meeting to present the budget to the minister,” he continued. “What I will be doing, along with the municipal, federal and provincial, is to present a structured project. All the studies are completed. It’s fairly simple now to present it to the minister for infrastructure projects.”
Still working on project
In an e-mail sent to the Laval News this week, Robillard’s political assistant, Geoffroy Desautels, clarified the funding issue. “To date, there is no known official investment for Marc-Aurèle-Fortin,” he said. “Following the consultation process and starting next week Mr. Robillard will be making representations to the Minister of Finance in order to maximize the infrastructure investments for Laval.
“It would be premature to say anything concerning numbers or to single out specific projects, even if from a personal perspective Mr. Robillard is aware of certain shortcomings in his riding, notably as concerns sports infrastructure,” he added. “In this sense, the outdoor soccer stadium being developed by Fabrose interests him in particular and he intends to make pressure in order to obtain the support of the federal government in this dossier.”