NEWS

Montreal spending plan targets waterworks and road repairs

08/21/2013 06:07 EDT | Updated 10/21/2013 05:12 EDT
The City of Montreal will invest $2.2 billion to repair and replace its aging infrastructure over the next three years, according to the capital-works plan released by the city's interim mayor, Laurent Blanchard today.

Those repairs make up roughly three-quarters (73 per cent) of the total $3.8 billion the city estimates it will spend on capital projects this fiscal year — about $300 million less than the plan adopted last year.

Blanchard said his executive committee is committed to administering public money wisely and carefully.

"We think [these investments] will help to pave the way to a better future for all Montrealers," Blanchard said.

Blanchard said although there isn't much leeway, some money has been set aside for new projects, including a new indoor soccer stadium and new organic waste treatment plants.

The city also plans to spend $11.5 million to expand its network of cycling paths and modernize about a dozen arenas and swimming pools.

Vision Montreal Leader Louise Harel says the plan is a step in the right direction but falls short of recommended spending targets. The city's auditor-general Jacques Bergeron recommended last May that the city spend an additional $100 million per year on roads just to keep them in a decent state of repair.

Harel says taxpayers are shouldering too much of the burden.

"We need more support from Quebec and from Ottawa, because it's impossible for Montrealers to pay only themselves for the rehabilitation of their infrastructures," Harel said.

The city's goal is to complete 85 per cent of what's in the three-year plan.

Last year, a mere 62 per cent of projects in the spending plan were completed — up from 52 per cent in 2011.

Among projects that are no longer in the works: the repaving of Ste-Catherine Street in downtown Montreal. The city has concluded it cannot afford the $122 million slated for that work.

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