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Peter Black

Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Quebec City’s ambitious tramway project is back on track after the city and the Quebec government appear to have resolved differences that derailed the plan for months.

Mayor Régis Labeaume proclaimed an “understanding” on March 17 after a 75-minute meeting on Parliament Hill with Premier François Legault and ministers involved in the file.

“It was an excellent meeting. I have the word of the premier and the premier has the word of the mayor of Quebec City,” Labeaume said.

Legault did not comment directly after the meeting, but later tweeted, “We now agree on the form the new version will take, as well as on the service to the suburbs. We hope for an announcement soon.” The premier said he welcomed the mayor’s “openness” in recent negotiations that seemed to breach the impasse.

The mayor accepted a major change in the eastern route of the tramway, which, under the city’s plan, would have travelled up 1ière Avenue in Limoilou and then north up Boulevard Henri-Bourassa in upper Charlesbourg.

The Quebec government’s proposal was to run the line along Chemin de la Canardière in Limoilou eastward to the Estimauville sector, the site of major redevelopment and construction of new office buildings. It would also be an interconnecting hub for transit from the Beauport district.

The Legault government is promising reserved lanes to compensate Charlesbourg for the loss of the proposed tramway line.

The western terminus of the tramway remains the Avenue Le Gendre area near the giant Ikea store, which seems to be a concession by Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) MNAs, who reportedly disputed the development potential in the area.

One consequence of the change of eastern route is that the city no longer needs small pieces of property it acquired along 1ière Avenue, according to a Radio-Canada report. At the same time, the city has bought a currently unoccupied building on Rue Saint-Jean which will become an access point for the underground Place d’Youville station.

With the city and the Legault government reaching agreement, the next step, according to the mayor, is to finalize and sign documents related to project details and financing. The city had initially hoped to have this done by the end of March.

The city is now free to conclude agreements with the construction consortium that will build the $3.3-billion tramway system. There are reports the province will enhance its contribution to cover the cost of the reserved lane project in Charlesbourg.

The target for the full completion of the tramway system is 2026. Quebec City is said to be the only North American city of more than 500,000 residents without a modern mass transit system.

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Image courtesy of Ville de Québec

This depiction shows a tramway station at Parc Jean-Paul-L’Allier in Saint Roch. With the city and the Legault government agreeing on the route, construction of the system is slated to begin next year.

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