Alberta Progressive Conservative leader Jason Kenney, left, walks with former interim leader Ric McIver at the Federal Building in Edmonton, Monday, March 20, 2017. The Alberta government has introduced legislation to bring in toll roads and bridges, but just for new projects. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Codie McLachlan

Alberta Progressive Conservative leader Jason Kenney, left, walks with former interim leader Ric McIver at the Federal Building in Edmonton, Monday, March 20, 2017. The Alberta government has introduced legislation to bring in toll roads and bridges, but just for new projects. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Codie McLachlan

Alberta government introduces legislation to levy tolls on new roads, bridges

Revenue collected from the tolls would have to be used for the cost of the new road or bridge

The Alberta government has introduced legislation that would bring in tolls on roads and bridges, but just for new projects.

Transportation Minister Ric McIver says the bill explicitly prohibits user fees on existing roads and bridges.

But he adds Alberta is facing a severe financial crunch and needs to find creative ways to finance critical infrastructure.

“User-financed construction will strengthen economic growth and competitiveness at a time when Albertans need it most,” McIver told a news conference Tuesday prior to introducing the bill in the legislature.

“This means faster commutes and less congestion while unleashing economic potential through speeding up commerce.”

McIver noted tolls are accepted ways to raise money in other jurisdictions, such as the Coquihalla Highway in British Columbia and Highway 407 in Toronto.

He said that under the bill the toll plan could only be used for new projects or expansions to existing ones. A toll could only go ahead if there remained a no-toll option for drivers not wanting to pay.

Revenue collected from the tolls would have to be used for the cost of the new road or bridge and the toll would disappear once the capital cost of the project was paid off.

The government could suspend the fee in case of emergencies, such as forest fires and other natural disasters.

There would also have to be local consultation before a project proceeded.

McIver said if the bill passes, the government will start with a Highway 697 bridge over the Peace River near the hamlet of La Crete, 500 kilometres northwest of Edmonton, to replace an existing ferry.

“Alberta’s government had planned to replace the ferry with another ferry; however, local residents strongly advocated the construction of a bridge to replace the ferry as they expressed (concerns) the ferry is inconsistent and unreliable,” said McIver.

“The traffic counts simply do not support building a bridge over the Peace River with the traffic count on Highway 697.”

He said those who didn’t want to take the new bridge would still have the option of driving the long way around, which is an hour-and-a-half detour.

Premier Jason Kenney’s United Conservative government is looking for ways to save money and increase revenue. It projected a $6.8-billion deficit this year, but that is expected to balloon to more than $24 billion due to economic havoc from COVID-19.

The question of toll roads came up in early 2019, prior to the election that saw the UCP defeat Rachel Notley’s NDP and form a majority government.

Kenney at that time publicly mused about the possibility of tolls to pay for new roads and bridges for industrial users. Notley warned that Kenney was opening the door to user-pay for new and existing roads and bridges for everyday commuters, an accusation the government rejected.

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

Alberta

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Health Minister Tyler Shandro said Thursday that the province was ready to move forward with Phase 2A and B in the coming weeks. (Photo by Paul Taillon/Office of the Premier)
COVID restrictions for retail, sports and performers further eased

Occupancy in stores and malls boosted to 25 per cent from 15 per cent

Advocate file image
Red Deer COVID cases continue to decline

249 cases in Red Deer, down from 565 peak on Feb. 22

(Photo from Highway 11 Functional Planning Study)
Public input wanted for Highway 11 improvement plan

Round 2 of public online engagement continues until March 10

File photo
Gov’t of Alberta identifies estimated 300 new COVID-19 cases Sunday

Online COVID-19 dashboard unavailable as upgrades being completed

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

A SAGA member (left) poses as Jessi Hanks (right) with Castle Restaurant puts up a safe space sticker to display on the restaurant’s front door. Shaela Dansereau/ Pipestone Flyer.
SAGA Wetaskiwin works with local businesses to display they are a safe space

The safe space stickers show that its a safe and inclusive space.

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during their appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Alberta Appeal Court orders 3rd trial for parents in toddler’s meningitis death

Stephans were accused of not seeking medical attention sooner for Ezekiel, who had meningitis when he died

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Vaccine hesitancy decreases in B.C. as mass immunizations set to begin: poll

Two-thirds of British Columbians, and Canadians, would get the vaccine as soon as possible

A woman walks through Toronto’s financial district on Monday, July 30, 2018. A new poll suggests most Canadians believe there’s still a long way to go to achieve gender equality in this country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Canadians, especially women, say gender equality not achieved in Canada: Poll

Poll results themselves underscore the challenge, with more men believing equality had been achieved

This image provided by Harpo Productions shows Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, left, in conversation with Oprah Winfrey. (Joe Pugliese/Harpo Productions via AP)
Race, title and anguish: Meghan and Harry explain royal rift

Meghan said she struggled with concerns within the royal family about her son’s skin colour

Kiara Robillard is seen in an undated handout photo. When the pandemic began, Robillard had to rush back home to Alberta from California, where she had been living for five years, after she was struck by a truck that broke her spine in two places. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Kiara Robillard, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
‘It kind of clicks:’ Text4Hope program helps with depression, anxiety during pandemic

Participants receive one text message every morning for three months

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

Most Read