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Alone to build the tramway, the City of Quebec brandishes its plan B

Jacques Nadeau Archives Le Devoir The mayor of Quebec, Bruno Marchand, says he is convinced that the City can take under its wing the construction of the tram infrastructure at a lower cost, putting forward the estimate of 8.4 billion dollars — more than double the last evaluation presented by its administration.

Faced with the withdrawal of the consortia expected to build the infrastructure that will support the tramway route, the City of Quebec is presenting an $8.4 billion plan in which it becomes project manager of the site.

< p>It was a solemn hour, Wednesday morning, in the reception room of Quebec City Hall. Rare presence: several members of the executive committee filled the benches in front of the platform where the mayor, Bruno Marchand, wanted to dispel from the outset the mortuary atmosphere surrounding the tramway.

“The project is still alive,” he recalled. However, given that the only consortium still in the running decided to withdraw from the race last Friday, a few days before the deadline to submit a financial proposal, the tram will now have to take another route to arrive safely.

“We learned [Friday] that [the consortium] Mobilité de la Capitale would not submit financial proposals. The financing conditions are the main reason to justify the absence of a deposit by this consortium,” indicated the mayor. Faced with the abandonment of the only competitor in the race, Bruno Marchand therefore ended the call for proposals process.

The consortium would have been responsible for bringing major pieces of the tramway into the world: the design, construction, financing and maintenance over 30 years of the infrastructure, which notably includes the tramway platform, its 29 stations, its two hubs. 'exchange, the tunnel allowing movement despite the cliff that separates the lower and upper town, its garage and its operating systems.

8.4 billion dollars< /h2>

Now alone at the helm, the City offers to take this project under its wing. The project office would become the project manager, breaking down each component of the infrastructure to launch calls for tenders in the hope of attracting bidders.

The mayor of Quebec, Bruno Marchand, estimates that Quebec could build its tram at a lower cost in this way, putting forward an estimate of $8.4 billion — more than double the last official assessment presented by his administration. The sum includes, said the elected official, the $569 million contract already awarded to Alstom and the half-billion dollars already swallowed up by the City.

The City of Quebec would save public funds because, “first, it does not seek to make a profit,” said the mayor. Second, the City knows its territory.” In his eyes, the multiplication of less ambitious calls for tenders would lead to greater competition and less costly submissions. Bruno Marchand added that $5.6 billion would flow into “companies in Quebec and Quebec” since they would receive the majority of contracts.

The distribution of costs for the three levels of government , in the plan put together by Quebec, would remain the same: Ottawa would pay 40% of the bill; the Quebec government, half; the City, the remaining 10%. “The Government of Canada,” assured the mayor, remains “all in with us” despite this significant change of plan.

In a written statement, the federal minister and MP for Quebec, Jean-Yves Duclos, confirmed the Liberal government's support for the tramway. “The Canadian government has supported Quebec City’s modern public transportation project from the start,” his office wrote. Quebec City therefore has the choice of catching up or letting other cities benefit from available and future investments from the Canadian government. »

The ball in the CAQ’s court


At a time when the realization of the tramway seems more fragile than ever, the mayor of Quebec played his part on Wednesday, presenting to journalists a video showing the route of the phases that the City is considering over a 15-year horizon.

“It’s an opportunity, definitely,” said the mayor about his plan B. Now, everything depends on the CAQ, underlined Bruno Marchand, urging the government to show its support “in a few days, at most a few weeks “. “We cannot go beyond the end of November,” said the mayor.

He invited the CAQ to play politics “beyond the polls” to have the “courage” to finance the tramway despite its unpopularity. “We need the government of Quebec. If we don't have this partner, you understand that the poker game will be short. »

Prime Minister François Legault did not show his enthusiasm on Wednesday at the idea of ​​betting at the same table as Bruno Marchand. “I would like to have a project,” he said, but $8.4 billion “is expensive, very expensive. It's worrying.”

The Minister of Transport, Geneviève Guilbault, sounded the same bell. “We are going to sit down with the City, discuss with the City what was discussed in their announcement this morning,” she declared during the question period in response to questions from the PQ MP for Jean-Talon , Pascal Paradis.

The solidarity deputy for Taschereau, Etienne Grandmont, said he was “very impressed by the mayor” and “convinced” that he can build the tram at the estimated price. He invited the CAQ to support Quebec City's plan B, emphasizing that the cancellation of the tramway would deprive Quebec of the billions promised by Ottawa and recalling that the contract already signed with Alstom would have repercussions as far as La Pocatière.

“These are jobs here, in Quebec,” argued the solidarity.

Resignation of the mayor requested


The second opposition at Quebec City Hall celebrated what it considers to be the upcoming burial of the tramway. In his opinion, Mayor Bruno Marchand and the CAQ are now tossing the ball to see who will hold the hammer when the time comes to drive the last nail into the coffin.

“What Bruno Marchand does today, it’s because he’s letting the odious guy get the hang of the CAQ,” said the interim head of Équipe Priorité Québec, Patrick Paquet. “Captain Tramway has failed. […] I think he should step down from town hall. »

Without asking for the formal resignation of Mayor Marchand, the leader of the official opposition expressed his disappointment at this spectacle. “As a citizen, I feel very poorly served by my two levels of government, who are not able to agree to ensure that Quebec has a structuring mode of transport like any large city,” lamented Claude Villeneuve .

With Isabelle Porter and François Carabin

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116