Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Francois-Philippe Champagne at the Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce lunch on Feb. 13. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

Federal infrastructure minister talks Highway 1 widening in Fraser Valley

Dollars are allocated from Ottawa but it’s up to Victoria to prioritize

When Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Francois-Philippe Champagne was 10 minutes late to the Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce lunch on Wednesday, the obvious joke someone made was that he could have been on time if the infrastructure between communities in the Fraser Valley was better.

Widening of Highway 1 east from Langley to at least Abbotsford has been on the minds of municipal politicians and others for many years, but the idea is really in the hands of the provincial government.

Coun. Chris Kloot asked Champagne a simple question about his trip to Chilliwack: “Did you get stuck in traffic?”

Champagne responded that they did have travel issues, but pointed out they were more about weather. Still he understands the complaints.

“I have heard very much about the choke points between here and Abbotsford,” he said, adding that federal infrastructure money is in place for B.C., but it’s up to Victoria to prioritize projects.

“The money is already allocated to B.C.”

Pressed on the question in a one-on-one interview with The Progress after the lunch meeting, Champagne said his ministry provides funding and works with the province but Ottawa can’t direct priorities.

“We really rely on local decision-making,” he said. “It’s not for folks in Ottawa to make decisions about what’s best for the people of Chilliwack or the valley. When you are the infrastructure minister and you have projects all across Canada the first thing you do is listen to the consensus that is built locally.”

He said he does have a good relationship with Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Claire Trevena, but it’s up to the provincial government to prioritize.

“At the end of the day, this is something for the province of B.C. to decide, obviously in consultation with the local community.”

For years the widening of the highway to Abbotsford has been discussed, but the plan has stalled under the NDP government.

• READ MORE: Highway widening through Abbotsford to come after Langley project: MLA

Last September, Chilliwack MLA John Martin renewed the call for highway widening after a Labour Day weekend that saw hundreds of people stuck in holiday traffic.

“One of the big reasons we’ve got transportation and moving problems in the Eastern Fraser Valley is we don’t have our six lanes of highway,” Martin said in a video he posted on his Facebook page.

• READ MORE: VIDEO: Chilliwack MLA renews call for Highway 1 widening to six lanes

Champagne made a brief stopover in Chilliwack to meet with local business people and elected officials at The Coast Hotel to talk about his current role with infrastructure but also his prior portfolio, trade.

He was also asked questions on other topics: when tax dollars will trickle down to municipalities from cannabis legalization, and if there are updates on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.

• READ MORE: OPINION: Reading the Highway 1 tea leaves


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Francois-Philippe Champagne at the Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce lunch on Feb. 13. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

Just Posted

Crashes pile up as snow blankets Surrey

Up to 10 centimetres of snow is in the forecast

How much does your city spend per person on snow removal?

Black Press Media compares 2018 ice and snow removal budgets of various Lower Mainland communities

B.C. BUDGET: Surplus $374 million after bailouts of BC Hydro, ICBC

Growth projected stronger in 2020, Finance Minister Carole James says

Surrey pastor in concert with songs from her new ‘Psalms for a Peaceful Heart’ CD

‘Incredible’ church sanctuary in Whalley a stage for Lori-Anne Boutin-Crawford’s music

Plan to redevelop former Surrey motel site too dense, says Coun. Pettigrew

Pettigrew: ‘We need to build liveable community with green spaces… not massive zones that are densified’

VIDEO: 8 things you need to know about the 2019 B.C. budget

Surplus of $247 million with spending on children, affordability and infrastructure

Ex-Langley spiritual leader cleared of stock trading allegations

Investors allegedly lost $740,000 investing through a local religious organization.

‘Bullet missed me by an inch’: Man recounts friend’s killing at Kamloops hotel

Penticton man witnessed Summerland resident Rex Gill’s murder in Kamloops

B.C. BUDGET: Income assistance raise still leaves many below poverty line

$50 per month increase included in funding for poverty and homelessness reduction

B.C. BUDGET: Indigenous communities promised billions from gambling

Extended family caregiver pay up 75 per cent to keep kids with relatives

B.C. BUDGET: New benefit increases family tax credits up to 96 per cent

BC Child Opportunity Benefit part of province’s efforts to reduce child poverty

B.C. BUDGET: Carbon tax boosts low-income credits, electric vehicle subsidies

Homeowners can get up to $14,000 for heating, insulation upgrades

B.C. man survives heart attack thanks to Facebook

A Princeton man suffered a heart attack while at an isolated property with no cell service

Abbotsford man sues Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party over trademark

Satinder Dhillon filed application for trademark same day Maxime Bernier announced the new party

Most Read