Ottawa ready to pass law forcing CN to restore rusting Quebec Bridge

Ottawa says its ready to take ownership of the aging Quebec Bridge or pass legislation forcing the Canadian National Railway to restore the historic structure.

Quebec City leaders have been trying for years to have the steel cantilever bridge repainted. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised in 2015 to get the job done, and on Friday — less than two months before an expected federal election — three of his ministers committed once again to restoring the National Historic Site.

Friday’s announcement was the first time the federal government publicly stated an intention to take ownership of the bridge and compensate CN, the span’s current owner.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau, Infrastructure Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne and Families Minister Jean-Yves Duclos told a news conference in Quebec City they have appointed a special negotiator to seek a deal with CN. They named former iA Financial Group CEO Yves Charest to negotiate.

Charest will have a mandate to recommend options by 2020 to restore the Quebec Bridge, which was completed in 1917.

The ministers say Charest could recommend a transfer of the bridge from CN to the federal government with adequate compensation. They say another option is legislation forcing CN to restore the bridge in the near term.

Quebec City Mayor Regis Labeaume told reporters that CN hasn’t been easy to deal with.

“It’s hard to negotiate when the main stakeholder — CN — doesn’t really want to sit at the table,” Labeaume said.

CN spokesman Alexandre Boule told The Canadian Press the bridge’s current condition does not mean it is unsafe.

“CN always made the necessary investments to ensure the long-term structural integrity of the bridge,” he said in an email. “We have always been open to discuss this file with the federal government and we will continue to do so. We will contact Mr. Charest in the upcoming days.”

The Quebec Bridge — which links Quebec City and Levis — is a symbol of engineering achievement and failure. It’s the longest clear-span cantilever bridge in the world and the first bridge on the continent to use nickel and steel in its construction.

The first two construction attempts — one in 1907 and another in 1916 — failed, resulting in the loss of 89 lives.

In 1987, the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering declared the bridge an international historical monument.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer up to four active COVID-19 cases

Province announced 77 new confirmed cases across Alberta Friday

Red Deer woman loses student visa, ‘has no choice but to leave’ Canada

Victoria Forschle and her family came to Canada in 2008

Agriculture trade show is a must, says Red Deer chamber

Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce promotes trade show

$21M of improvements to be made to Olds College

More than $21 million in improvements will be made to Olds College,… Continue reading

Canadian economy adds 953,000 jobs in June, unemployment rate falls

OTTAWA — Nearly one million more Canadians had jobs in June than… Continue reading

Survey suggests 40 per cent of Alberta doctors have considered leaving province

CALGARY — A survey by the Alberta Medical Association suggests more than… Continue reading

NHL, NHLPA ratify RTP, CBA extension; Toronto, Edmonton unveiled as hub cities

TORONTO — The NHL remains on course to resume its pandemic-delayed season… Continue reading

Fast-moving Tropical Storm Fay makes landfall in New Jersey

NEW YORK — Fast-moving Tropical Storm Fay made landfall in New Jersey… Continue reading

‘Are you wearing protection?’: Daters struggle with COVID-19 compatibility

WASHINGTON — A federal judge in Baltimore on Friday struck down a… Continue reading

Red Deer sports groups sticking to racially sensitive names for now

Professional sports teams Edmonton Eskimos and Washington Redskins are reviewing their team names

Genetic non-discrimination law is constitutional, Supreme Court says

OTTAWA — In a split decision, the Supreme Court of Canada has… Continue reading

Most Read