Montreal

Ottawa won't commit yet to funding Montreal's light-rail system

Supporters of a proposed light-rail system for Montreal will have to wait until next year before finding out if the federal government will help fund the project.

Infrastructure Canada says it is "looks forward" to seeing a funding proposal

One of the new commuter rail stations envisioned by the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec. (Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec)

Supporters of a proposed light-rail system for Montreal will have to wait until next year before finding out if the federal government will help fund the project.

Quebec's pension fund, the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, announced on Friday that it was committing $3 billion to building an extensive transit network that would link the West Island, the South Shore and Pierre-Elliott Trudeau Airport to downtown. 

The 67-kilometre rail line would connect 24 stations, with the first trains scheduled to roll by 2020. 

The Caisse estimates another $2.5 billion will be needed to complete the project, which will likely come from the provincial and federal governments. 

Quebec has already said it will pitch in, though it hasn't yet provided an amount. Ottawa, though, has yet to offer a firm commitment. 

"Minister [Amarjeet] Sohi recently met with Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec to learn more about this project," Infrastructure Canada spokesperson James Chow told CBC Montreal in an email.

"The federal government looks forward to receiving a funding request, which will be analyzed in detail."

In its first budget, the federal Liberals laid the groundwork for a $3.4 billion Public Transit Infrastructure Fund. That fund included an allotment of $775 million for public transit projects in Montreal over the next three years. 

But the light-rail system won't be considered for this first round of funding. It will have to wait until Ottawa releases further details about its infrastructure spending plans.

"The parameters of Phase 2 will be made public within the next year and it is under this second phase that investments in new transit projects  – such as the one announced [Friday] – will be considered," Chow said. 

A centrepiece of the recent federal budget was the promise to devote $120 billion over the next 10 years to updating Canada's infrastructure.

Of that, $60 billion has been set aside for public transit, green infrastructure and social infrastructure projects.

with files from Benjamin Shingler

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