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

Surrey Central SkyTrain Station upgrades completed

It’s the seventh station along Expo Line to see upgrades completed. Construction began in March 2017

Semiahmoo Trail students surpass Coldest Night fundraising goal

Rocco Forte and his team are third-year participants in Saturday’s Coldest Night of the Year walk

Tardi and team playoff bound in junior curling worlds tonight

Friday night Team Canada’s men’s team faces off against Norway, hoping to secure a spot in the finals

Former Cloverdale church elder will be tried in Supreme Court on sexual assault charges

Preliminary inquiry for Brian Batke case set for February 2020

Measles case confirmed within Fraser Health region

One case within Fraser Health is related to the outbreak in three Vancouver schools.

Girl heard saying ‘Help my Dad’ in suspicious radio message on Vancouver Island

Police asking for help following mysterious signals from somewhere between Comox and Sayward

Reports of rashes prompt closure of all Harrison Hot Springs pools

Public pool available after Fraser Health shut down all five mineral pools until further notice

Man sentenced to 7 years for smuggling drugs and shooting at border guards in Sumas

Nathan Hall was arrested in Abbotsford in 2013 after day-long manhunt

No treatment for highly infectious measles, says doctor

10 cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver as of Friday

Two more measles cases confirmed in Vancouver

It brings the number of total cases within the city connected to the outbreak to ten

B.C. Special Olympics officially underway in Vernon

Athlete’s Oath: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Vancouver Aquarium wants your help to name a baby killer whale

The public helped name Springer’s first calf, Spirit, and is being asked to help with the second

Guards protest firing of fellow officers charged with assault at B.C. prison

Corrections officers demonstrated in Maple Ridge on Friday afternoon

Most Read