New public transit infrastructure may finally be on its way to Montreal's West Island and the South Shore, thanks to a partnership between Quebec's pension fund manager, Caisse de dépôt, and the provincial government.
The Quebec government has announced a plan to have the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec take over the financing and ownership of infrastructure projects, beginning with public transit.
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For years, community members on Montreal's South Shore and the West Island have been begging for more efficient public transit infrastructure.
It seems their wishes will finally be granted — the first two projects will be a light-rail transit system on the new Champlain Bridge in Montreal and the Train de l'Ouest, or West Island train line, to improve commuter train service to the West Island and Montreal's Trudeau International Airport.
The Caisse, which manages public pension plans in Quebec, is aiming to complete the projects, worth $5 billion, before the end of 2020.
New agreement marks policy shift for Caisse
Other projects proposed by the government would be added and financed by equity investment and long-term debt.
Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, Finance Minister Carlos Leitao and the head of the Caisse, Michael Sabia, made the announcement at a news conference Tuesday morning.
The province said the approach will remove costly projects from its books and could be a model for other governments.
The Caisse will create a subsidiary that will plan, finance, develop and operate projects that have potential to generate returns for its clients.
The agreement with the province represents a major policy shift for the Caisse.
Its current mandate is to maximize returns for retirees in the province while at the same time helping to grow Quebec's economy.
The Caisse, one of Canada's largest investment managers, has assets estimated at $214 billion.