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Quebec pledges to fund Gatineau's light rail plans

Quebec Premier François Legault has pledged to fund 60 per cent of a $2.1-billion project to build an ambitious east-west light rail line in Gatineau, Que.

François Legault promises to fund 60 per cent of $2.1-billion project

An artist's rendering of a light rail train running through Gatineau's Aylmer district. That scene came one step closer to reality this weekend after Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin announced the province would cover 60 per cent of the cost of the city's ambitious LRT plans. (Société de transport de l'Outaouais)

The Quebec government has pledged to fund 60 per cent of an ambitious $2.1-billion project to bring light rail to Gatineau, Que.

Gatineau Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin announced on social media Saturday morning that he'd secured the funding promise from Premier François Legault for the 26-kilometre network, which the city hopes to have up and running by the end of the next decade.

"It's great news, because the Quebec government has never been as clear as Mr. Legault was yesterday," Pedneaud-Jobin later told Radio-Canada.

"The next step is to convince the federal government … and that's a big battle, but I think it's essential that they're part of this project."

2028 launch date

Last summer, the City of Gatineau unveiled its preliminary plan to link its Aylmer and Plateau sectors via a network that would also cross the Ottawa River and connect with Ottawa's yet-to-launch LRT project.

The two sectors are among the fastest growing in the western Quebec city.

The city hopes to have a final plan in place by next spring, which would be followed by environmental assessments, construction and the unveiling of the light rail line in 2028.

Gatineau, Que., Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin announced June 8, 2019, that the Quebec government would be funding the city's ambitious light rail plans to the tune of 60 per cent. (Radio-Canada)

Federal uncertainty

While Hull-Aylmer MP Greg Fergus has been a vocal proponent of bringing light rail to Gatineau, the federal government's ultimate level of support remains hard to gauge given the uncertainty around this fall's election.

Even so, Pedneaud-Jobin said the "reality is clear": without significant investments in the city's transit network, Gatineau commuters will be facing a dreary decade.

"Within 10 years, we're either going to be stuck in traffic because of cars or because of buses," he said.

"So I think that reality's going to help us a lot to convince the federal government … whatever party is elected in the fall."

The City of Gatineau's first proposal for a new light rail line. (City of Gatineau)

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