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Quebec Third Link 'incompatible' with climate efforts: Federal minister

Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault stands during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Monday, Oct. 17, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault stands during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Monday, Oct. 17, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
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Federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault says the Quebec City-Lévis Third Link project is "incompatible" with the fight against climate change.

Guilbault says the tunnel project, which has been repeatedly defended by the CAQ, makes “no sense,” and that it will foster “increased urban sprawl.”

“Yes, we're moving more and more towards electric vehicles, but that in itself doesn't justify inviting urban sprawl," he told The Canadian Press. Guilbault made the comments on the sidelines of an announcement in Montreal about recreational trails.

“We can't think that we can fight climate change by expanding the road network," said the minister Thursday morning, a few hours before François Legault unveiled the composition of his cabinet.

His counterpart in Quebec remains Benoit Charette. When asked about his expectations for Charette’s next mandate, Guilbeault said he hopes he will prioritize public transit and land protection.

He said the federal government still intends to conduct an environmental impact study when the province provides its Third Link proposal. The most recent plans presented by the Legault government in April included two smaller tunnels than initially announced. There would also be lanes reserved for public transit, but only during rush hour.

The minister said he would like to work with his Quebec counterpart on issues related to environmental protection, as Montreal will host a UN conference on biodiversity in December.

Former Quebec Transport Minister Francois Bonnardel responds to the Opposition on the plan to build a third link between Levis and Quebec City during question period, Wednesday, June 8, 2022 at the legislature in Quebec City. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

$55 MILLION FOR RECREATIONAL TRAILS

Guilbeault was at the Lachine Canal Thursday morning to announce an investment of $55 million over five years to maintain, improve and develop the more than 28,000 km of the Trans Canada Trail system, which passes through 32 sites managed by Parks Canada.

“This funding will improve the connectivity, access and sustainability of the trails," he said.

The funding could, for example, support various projects in Quebec such as the improvement of a bicycle path along the Saint-François River in the Val-Saint-François MRC in the Eastern Townships, and new shelters for cross-country skiers and hikers on the Caps de Charlevoix Trail.

According to Parks Canada, 80 per cent of Canadians live within 30 minutes of a section of the Trans Canada Trail.

-- This article by The Canadian Press was first published on Oct. 20, 2022, with the financial support of the Meta and Canadian Press News Grants.

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