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.

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

 

Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Francois-Philippe Champagne at the Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce lunch on Feb. 13. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

Just Posted

RCMP searching for witnesses of an assault

Man found lying along Abernethy Way

BC Liberal Leader talks drug addiction in Pitt Meadows

Drug addiction and public safety a top priority says Andrew Wilkinson

Record number of visitors hit Maple Ridge parks and trails

More than 630,000 people Apr. 1 and Aug. 31

IIO recommends no charges in Maple Ridge police shooting

Kyaw Din was killed by the RCMP during a mental health incident in August 2019

Horgan promises more child care at $10 per day during Maple Ridge visit

Liberals say the NDP has failed to deliver on daycare

Pandemic derails CP Holiday Train

Canadian Pacific will work to get donations to food banks while also producing an online music concert

Vanderhoof’s Brian Frenkel takes on top job in tough times

We can get through this, new local government leader says

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Local councils important, Horgan says as municipal conference ends

B.C. NDP leader says ‘speed dating’ vital, online or in person

Penticton woman sentenced to one year in prison for manslaughter of teen boyfriend

Kiera Bourque, 24, was sentenced for manslaughter in the 2017 death of Penticton’s Devon Blackmore

Increased border enforcement curbs cross-line parties at Peace Arch State Park

Gatherings between U.S. and Canadian citizens ‘a daily carnival’ – resident

B.C. Green leader says NDP abandoning environmental plan

Horgan’s claim of unstable government false, Furstenau says

Most Read