Valérie Plante’s key campaign promise of a new Pink Line metro isn’t a guarantee now that the Project Montreal leader is the acting mayor of Montreal.
There’s still the not-so-little problem of funding the estimated $6 billion public transit project, and neither the provincial or federal government is committing to fitting the bill.
"We have many projects on the go right now, and we'll discuss them all with Madame Plante," Quebec Premier Phillipe Couillard told the CBC.
Couillard basically sidestepped any formal commitment to fund the Pink Line, making his statement sound like a “no, but also maybe yes.”
Today, Plante is also meeting with Martin Coiteux, Minister of Public Affairs and Land Occupancy, the man who essentially holds the keys to funding from the provincial government. Hopefully Coiteux can make a stronger commitment than just “maybe.”
The federal government didn’t offer much more support.
Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly said that the Trudeau government is “ready to study all projects” with the new mayor of Montreal.
Joly was certain to point out, notes the CBC, that the federal government is already doling out billions of dollars for existing public transit projects, like the new Light Rail Train project.
The Trudeau government is investing $1.28-billion on the LRT, which will connect Montreal’s downtown to the South Shore, West Island, and airport.
Quebec is also pledging money towards the LRT, about $1.3 billion.
In total, the 67km LRT will cost $6 billion.
Coincidentally, that’s the same price it would cost to build the Pink Line.
Valérie Plante had promised Montrealers that the Pink Line would be covered by funding from other levels of government. Unfortunately, it looks like that cash is already earmarked for the LRT.
Now, this isn’t to say that Plante can't secure the funding for the new metro line. Both Couillard and Joly, representing the federal and provincial governments, didn’t formally say “no” to the Pink Line project.
But, as their comments demonstrate, neither provided a “yes” commitment. And nothing is going to move forward until the cash is acquired.
It looks like money for the Pink Line will be Plante’s first major test as mayor of Montreal.
If successful, Plante will demonstrate political savvy, being able to coerce upper levels of government into providing cash for another infrastructure project, and commit to a major campaign promise.
If it doesn’t work out, Plante won’t look so great in the eyes of Montrealers. The sheen of a new mayor can only last so long, anyway.