Patrick Lauzon Getty Images After putting an end to his project for a new road link between Quebec and Lévis last spring, Prime Minister Legault resurrected the idea on Tuesday. In the photo, the two existing bridges between Quebec and Lévis.
The president of the Advisory Committee on Climate Change (CCCC), Alain Webster, raises a red flag in the face of François Legault's intentions to revive his third motorway link. Such a project is irreconcilable, he says, with the “greatest challenge in the history of humanity.”
“For the moment, I have seen absolutely nothing that makes the idea of creating this type of infrastructure and a carbon neutrality trajectory compatible,” said the expert in an interview with Devoir , Friday.
Mr. Since 2021, Webster has led the CCCC, an independent organization responsible for advising the Minister of the Environment, Benoit Charette, on climate issues. Already, last year, he recommended that François Legault's government stop motorway development altogether. And this, everywhere in Quebec.
However, after putting an end to his road link project between Quebec and Lévis last spring, Prime Minister Legault resurrected the idea on Tuesday. He intends to “consult the population” of the greater Quebec region to better understand their intentions on this subject. “I will work very hard, with my colleagues, with the deputies, with the entire CAQ [Coalition Avenir Québec] team, to regain people’s confidence,” he said the day after the electoral defeat of his party in the riding of Jean-Talon.
Asked this week about the potential relaunch of an inter-river link accessible to cars, the Minister of the Environment simply said that it was “speculation”. The president of the main group responsible for advising him issues a warning.
- Call to slow down motorway development
- The South Shore of Quebec never gave up for the third link
- After the tunnel, Legault resurrects the idea of a Quebec-Lévis bridge
“When we create new highway links in metropolitan centers, we induce greater demand in terms of travel by car. And so, by the same token, we are increasing the pressure,” said Alain Webster on Friday.
“We are trying to respond to a particular need on the South Shore,” he added. “But if it involves a new transport system such as a tunnel or bridge, to be able to say that the approach is relevant, we still need to be able to demonstrate the fact that this new infrastructure does not induce urban sprawl, does not result in an increase in the number of vehicles [and] greenhouse gas emissions. »
Asked Thursday about the need to relaunch the third link project, the deputy for Beauce-Nord, Luc Provençal, who claims to have never given up, spoke of the needs of the South Shore in terms of heavy transport and trucking. Here again, replies Alain Webster, we must review our ways of doing things.
“We must use the train better, use better – in this case – the sea route, the river. Make modal shift strategies,” he said. “There are major things to do in terms of trucking that have more beneficial effects on the environment than a new road link. »
“If we keep doing the same thing we’re doing, we’ll get the same result. We will have more and more vehicles on the roads and we will have more and more greenhouse gas emissions,” he summarized.
Mr. Webster, who teaches at the University Training Center in Environment and Sustainable Development at the University of Sherbrooke, is also concerned about the risks that such a structure – the Prime Minister again spoke of a bridge this week – could pose. for biodiversity.
“We must not only reduce greenhouse gases, but also conserve ecosystems so that they maintain their carbon sequestration capacity,” he said. “So, when we think about territorial sprawl, we think about the conservation of ecosystems, woodlands, natural environments, peatlands, forests. »
An alternative solution
By abandoning the third motorway link last April, the Minister of Transport, Geneviève Guilbault presented a preliminary version of a tunnel only dedicated to public transport. A much more sustainable solution in the current context, according to Alain Webster.
“Perhaps in the end, it will end with an integrated tramway public transport system in Quebec with the Rive- South,” he said on Friday. “If that’s it, well, great. »
In the meantime, the cars are back on the table. “There will be a demonstration of relevance coming,” he said. “But I think that, in this case, everything needs to be done. »