Sustainable mobility: Québec must play a leadership role

Suzanne Lareau
March 1, 2019

In the November 2018 issue of this newsletter, I communicated to the Québec Minister of Transport our desire to have the Sustainability Mobility Policy adopted by the previous government maintained, a desire shared by many other organizations involved in shaping it. As I pointed out to him, this policy may not be perfect, but it has the merit of taking Québec in the right direction.

On January 25, Minister of Transport François Bonnardel undertook to implement the Sustainable Mobility Policy. He therefore chose the nonpartisan route for tackling a major societal challenge, in a context where 40% of greenhouse gas emissions are generated by the transportation sector. This is excellent news.

We feel that the main challenge of this policy is financial. Certain measures are already included in the government budget, but the magnitude of the task will require additional investments.

Currently, the Sustainable Mobility Policy allocated an average of $25 million annually for biking over the next five years. This includes mainly investments in partnership with municipalities (infrastructures and self-serve bicycles) and investments in the Route verte (maintenance and development). While this compares favourably to investments over the past few years (less than $10 million annually), we are still far from reconfiguring our cities in favour of biking.

One way to evaluate the significance of this type of investment is to compare it with the municipal effort. In 2019, the five largest cities in Québec will invest $31 million in cycling infrastructures. Therefore, we believe that the province should do more. In the current scenario, the amounts earmarked for biking represent just over 1% of some $9.7 billion provided under the Sustainable Mobility Policy for the 2018-2023 period. In the Vision vélo 2025 platform, we proposed dedicating $100 million to cycling infrastructures for at least a few years, an amount that could be shared between the Québec government and Infrastructure Canada. If we want to unite our cities’ neighbourhoods against the effect of physical and geographical barriers and create infrastructures that protect cyclists from the increased motor traffic, the necessary measures must be taken.

At the time of his announcement last month, the Transport Minister launched a one-year project regarding the financing of the Sustainable Mobility Policy, in order to supplement the investments already provided. Different scenarios are possible and hopefully the Green Fund will be further solicited. The same applies to Infrastructure Canada, where Québec does not collect all its dues in terms of public transit and active transportation.

Making the shift toward sustainable mobility is a veritable community project and one of the most tangible ways to help significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In reference to Québec’s budget making process, Alexandre Cusson, President of the Union des municipalités du Québec, said that the municipalities were ready to take action. Now it’s up to the Québec government to play a leadership role and send a strong signal on the subject of sustainable mobility!

Suzanne Lareau
President and CEO