Canada, Quebec agree to contribute toward $110 mln investment in St. Charles cleanup

Initiative requires retention ponds to reduce flooding by storing excess run-off captured by wastewater systems when it rains, and redirect the surplus water to the wastewater treatment plant, where it will be treated after the peak treatment period has ended. The two governments reached an agreement to jointly contribute about $73 million to this priority under the Canada Strategic Infrastructure Fund. Quebec City also to provide third of cost for this priority...

QUEBEC CITY, Quebec, Canada, May 11, 2005 (Canada Newswire) -- The Government of Canada, the Government of Quebec and Quebec City have announced that they will jointly invest close to $110 million to clean up the St. Charles River and to renaturalize its riverbanks.

The announcement was made by Liberal Party member of Canada's House of Commons and Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister with special emphasis on rural communities, Claude Drouin, on behalf of the Minister of State for Infrastructure and Communities, John Godfrey, together with Quebec's Minister of Transport and Minister responsible for the Capitale-Nationale region, Michel Després, on behalf of Minister of Municipal Affairs and Regions Nathalie Normandeau and Quebec City Mayor Jean-Paul L'Allier.

The St. Charles River clean water initiative will require the construction of retention ponds that will reduce incidents of flooding. These ponds will store the excess run-off water that is captured by wastewater systems when it rains, and redirect the surplus water to the wastewater treatment plant, where it will be treated after the peak treatment period has ended. The Government of Canada and the Government of Quebec reached an agreement-in-principle confirming their commitment to jointly contribute about $73 million to this priority under the Canada Strategic Infrastructure Fund. Quebec City will also provide one third of the costs for this priority.

"This agreement-in-principle is the result of discussions between our two governments on a number of infrastructure priorities," said Drouin. "Work on the St. Charles River will protect the environment and improve the quality of life of local residents. The Government of Canada is proud to contribute financially to the efforts of the Government of Quebec and Quebec City in support of environmentally sustainable municipal infrastructure."

For his part, Després said he's delighted that Quebec City can now complete its efforts to clean up the water. "Through these major public works, including those that will help restore the riverbanks, we are contributing to enhance the recreational, tourism, ecological and aesthetic value of the St. Charles River, all the while attracting more riverside residents and tourists. Cleaning up the St. Charles River is a project we have always believed in," he said.

The completion of this priority will have to comply with both federal and provincial environmental assessment requirements, and to the requirements of the Canada Strategic Infrastructure Fund.

Funding for clean water and wastewater treatment priorities is identified in an April 29 agreement-in-principle, in which the Government of Canada committed almost $1.2 billion to the Quebec under three federal infrastructure programs: the Canada Strategic Infrastructure Fund, the Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund and the Border Infrastructure Fund.

In addition, the governments of Canada and Quebec have agreed to continue talks to quickly sign the gas tax agreement, in order to encourage infrastructure renewal in Quebec. It should be noted that in its 2005 budget, Canada pledged to share $5 billion in gas tax revenues over the next five years, across the country. The annual amount will increase to $2 billion by the fifth year, and remain at this level indefinitely thereafter. Godfrey believes this contribution is a key element of the New Deal for Cities and Communities.

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