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 Chilliwack

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

Ground breaking ceremony at site of new Ledgeview Golf Course clubhouse in Abbotsford

Construction slated to start in November with total budget of $6.8 million

SLIDESHOW: West Coast Women’s Show

Largest women’s show in Western Canada returns to TRADEX this weekend

Elizabeth’s Wildlife Centre in Abbotsford could use a boost

Non-profit centre launches online campaign to raise money for upgrades

ELECTION HUB: Candidate profiles, voter information and news for Abbotsford’s ridings

We’ve collected our election coverage in one spot to help you decide who to vote for

Abbotsford school support staff vote 95 per cent in favour of strike

Teamsters Local 31 and school district negotiators to meet with mediator on Oct. 31

ELECTION 2019: It’s so close, it could come down to who turns out to vote

Black Press Media’s polling analyst on the origins of predictive seat modelling in Canada

Jack’s Devils beat Quinn’s Canucks 1-0 in NHL brother battle

New Jersey youngster scores first career goal against Vancouver

Two charged after owner’s wild ride through Kamloops in his stolen truck

Crystal Rae Dorrington, 37, and Derrick Ronald Pearson, 32, facing multiple charges

Kamloops Blazers blank Vancouver Giants

A loss on the road for G-men

Man found dead inside Richmond business, IHIT investigating

Police believe the incident was not random

Judge orders credit union’s bank records for Kelowna social worker facing theft allegations

The man is accused of negligence, breach of contract, fraud and a conspiracy with Interior Savings

Leaders pour it on with rallies, boosts for candidates as campaign reaches peak

The federal election campaign has reached a crescendo

Allegations of racism lead to ministry investigation at Vancouver private school

St. George’s School was contacted over what the school describes as ‘deeply offensive behaviour online’

Not a political question: Thunberg calls for climate action in Alberta

Edmonton police estimated the size of the crowd at about 4,000

Most Read