Money for West Quebec’s cycling trails
A dozen municipalities in the Pontiac MRC and in the Papineau MRC will share $127,000 to maintain the Route verte’s infrastructure on their territory, Quebec announced in early April.
Close to 90 km of bike paths in West Quebec will benefit from this investment, 85 km of which are part of the Cycloparc PPJ in the Pontiac. The municipalities of Mansfield and Clarendon receive the biggest slice of the cake, $20,000 each to upkeep their paths.
“We are supporting our municipalities which have built this asset of more than 5,000 kilometres, with a value of over $270 million. The Route verte is a pride for Quebecers, contributing to tourism and economic development,” declared Jacques Daoust, Minister of Transport.
Maybe too late?
The $127,000 is for the 2015-2016 financial period. “It’s welcome news, but it’s a little late because our budgets were already adopted. I’m disappointed in the way in which they (provincial government) proceeded; the province cut our budget and then later announced new funds,” said Raymond Durocher, MRC Pontiac Warden. “In the past, we had a 50-50 partnership to keep up the Route verte, but they made us cut our Route verte budget by three quarters.
“This year the total budget (here) represents about $50,000.
“That’s minimal maintenance because that’s all we could afford -- and then the province makes this announcement. We will applaud their announcement if we can roll over the funds for the 2017-2018-2019 budgets, but if we lose the funds, believe me, we will criticize them.”
Municipalities used to receive contributions thanks to the Route verte maintenance programme, but that was abolished by the Liberals in November 2014. “That was a major turning point. Since then, there was considerable public support for the Route verte by way of letters to the editors, municipal resolutions, and a petition,” commented Louis Carpentier, Planning Director for Route verte. “In the current budget the government earmarked funds to maintain and improve Route verte in 2016-2017, but after the budget, the government also announced $2 million for upkeeping Route verte. These funds are for 2015-2016, and are therefore retroactive from last year.”
As Carpentier explained, the amounts will help municipalities who already have bike paths on their territory, but some will be forced to play catch-up since they did not receive funds when the Route Verte maintenance programme was abolished.
“The funds this year will help municipalities upgrade their trails, since last year many municipalities lacked funds,” said Carpentier. The government’s $2 million will only cover part of the expenses.
“The $2 million is a signal that Route verte is important. We’re very happy the government found extra funds to help regions,” added Carpentier.
The funding to municipalities comes in proportion to the length of the bike paths in each municipality. For example, the Municipality of Pontiac (MoP) which is in the MRC des Collines received $48 to maintain their 0.03 km of cycling path.