Location: Regional (Quebec City, Quebec)

Key Messages:

  • The Government of Canada understands the importance of restoring the Quebec Bridge from a strategic, economic and heritage perspective, and is exploring the possibility of its repatriation, provided a fair agreement can be negotiated with partners.

  • Discussions with the Canadian National Railway (CN) continue to move forward, with a goal to reach an agreement in principle, which could see the federal government’s repatriation of the Bridge and establish a fair and equitable partnership with CN and Quebec.

  • We remain committed and confident that we will conclude fair and equitable agreements with CN and Quebec, the two partners and historical users of the bridge, to fulfill our commitment to take care of this historical asset and a key link between the south and north shores of Quebec.

Summary of Issue / Background:

History and importance of the Bridge:

  • The Quebec Bridge (the Bridge) is a strategic transportation asset for the Quebec City region that 33,000 vehicles and 6,000 public transit riders cross on a typical day, and 1,000 pedestrians and cyclists per day during the summer months. The bridge is also the only fixed rail link crossing the St. Lawrence River east of Montreal, with a direct connection to the deep-water Port of Quebec. Approximately $6 billion of freight crosses the bridge each year and 10 VIA Rail passenger trains per day.

  • The Bridge ownership was transferred from Canada to Canadian National Railway (CN) in 1995, and CN has invested the minimum amount necessary to maintain and ensure the safety of the bridge. The Government of Quebec (Quebec) is responsible for the maintenance and operations of only the road deck and pays an annual contribution to CN (user fees), which is defined under an agreement that is set to expire in 2032 (the Convention).

  • Since the property transfer in 1995, the appearance of the bridge has deteriorated and the federal government has faced local pressure to take on its rehabilitation, which became an evolving governmental priority in the last years.

  • The Government of Canada has publicly confirmed its intention to complete the negotiations to repatriate and rehabilitate the Quebec Bridge.

  • In 2019, Canada appointed Mr. Yvon Charest as special negotiator (the Negotiator). His mandate was then to recommend options to rehabilitate and ensure the sustainability of the Bridge.

  • The Negotiator submitted his Recommendation and Cost Estimates Report to the Minister of Infrastructure on June 26, 2020, that concluded that a transfer of ownership of the bridge to Canada was the only viable option to ensure the long-term sustainability of the asset, subject to adequate financial participation and shared responsibilities.

  • In 2021, the Negotiator was mandated to reach agreements and to secure financial contributions from both CN and the Government of Quebec, including an equitable sharing of the bridge’s maintenance costs in the short, medium and long term.

  • Discussions are ongoing with CN to conclude an agreement in principle, in a timely manner. Following the approval of an agreement, Canada would launch due diligence to support the final agreement(s) with CN and Quebec.