What now for local infrastructure projects?

Abbotsford mayor hopeful federal funding won’t stall

Henry Braun

Henry Braun

Mayor Henry Braun said he is hopeful that a change in government won’t stall federal funding for major local infrastructure projects.

Braun, who stayed up late to watch the results come in, congratulated incumbent Conservative candidate Ed Fast and newcomer Liberal Jati Sidhu, who won in the Abbotsford and Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon electoral districts, respectively.

He noted that it’s the first time significant parts of Abbotsford are divided into two electoral districts.

“I look forward to working with both of our MPs,” he told The News Tuesday morning. He said he will reach out to both Fast and Sidhu shortly

Braun said he hoped major infrastructure projects in the works in Abbotsford would be able to proceed through the federal pipeline, despite the change in government.

The previous Conservative government had committed funding to a Vye Road overpass, and the city had also identified the widening of Highway 1 as well as Mt. Lehman Road to Abbotsford International Airport as transportation priorities. The Vye Road project has since been expanded, and Fast had expressed hope for increased funding.

“I don’t know exactly where they were in the pipeline,” Braun said Tuesday of the projects. “I think we were very, very close.”

After taking office in 2006, the federal Conservatives committed millions of dollars of funding to projects in Abbotsord. That compared to what Conservatives said was a total lack of investment under the previous Liberal government.

Braun said he was hopeful that the new Liberal government would follow through on promises to increase infrastructure spending across the country, and that those funds would find its way to ridings that are represented by opposition MPs.

“I think there is no disputing that for many, many years, the infrastructure needs of Abbotsford were overlooked,” he said. “When the Conservative government came back to power, I think they recognized that … I would like to think the Liberal government today would not make the mistake of predecessors.”

Braun said he would take Justin Trudeau “at his word” when he said Conservatives are neighbours, rather than enemies.

“I welcome a dialogue with the Liberal government. We need to let the dust settle but then we will again be working with our provincial counterparts and federal counterparts to ensure they don’t forget these are very vital infrastructure needs to further the economy not only of Abbotsford, but Chilliwack, Langley and the larger region as well.”

Fast, for his part, said he couldn’t say how far away the Abbotsford projects are from completion, but that much had been done, particularly on Highway 1 and Vye Road.

“I would think that, given the work that has already gone into the Vye Road project and also the Highway 1 widening project, and the fact that the Province of British Columbia has made those two projects priorities, I think would reflect a strong argument to carry out those projects and get them finished, but again that is a decision that is no longer in our hands.”