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

Just Posted

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Alberta adds 1,195 new COVID-19 cases Saturday

Red Deer has dropped to 760 active cases

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw is asking Albertans to do their part by observing gathering limits, staying home if unwell, wearing masks and maintaining physical distance. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Three new Central zone COVID-19 deaths, Alberta adds 1,433 cases

Red Deer down to 802 active cases of COVID-19

During the summer at peak times and days, the angled parking lot and the small parking additional parking area north of the playground are congested due to visitors utilizing one of the few public boat launches on Pigeon Lake. Image/ Metro Creative Connection.
New parking lot to open in Mulhurst for the summer season

The paid parking lot will be able to accommodate 26 vehicles and trailers.

File photo
Maskwacis and Wetaskiwin RCMP requesting public’s assistance in shooting that left one male injured

The gun shot victim was transported to hospital by STARS Air Ambulance.

Alberta’a chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Thursday that there are more than 328,000 vaccine appointments booked over the next seven days. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta surpasses 2 million doses administered of COVID-19 vaccine

Red Deer down to 835 active cases of COVID-19

Marc Kielburger, screen left, and Craig Kielburger, screen right, appear as witnesses via video conference during a House of Commons finance committee in the Wellington Building in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 28, 2020. The committee is looking into Government Spending, WE Charity and the Canada Student Service Grant. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau didn’t violate conflict rules over WE Charity, watchdog says

Federal ethics commissioner Mario Dion found that former finance minister Bill Morneau did violate the rules

Welcoming cowboy boots at the historic and colourful Last Chance Saloon in the ghost town of Wayne near Drumheller, Alta., on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019. The bar and hotel are up for sale. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘It was a going concern’: Remaining bar and hotel in Alberta coal ghost town for sale

The historic Last Chance Saloon in the ghost town of Wayne in southern Alberta is up for sale

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Restrictions will lift once 75% of Canadians get 1 shot and 20% are fully immunized, feds say

Federal health officials are laying out their vision of what life could look like after most Canadians are vaccinated against COVID-19

Chris Scott, owner of The Whistle Stop Cafe, was put in handcuffs after an anti-restriction protest Saturday in the parking lot of the business. (Screenshot via The Whistle Stop Facebook page)
Alberta RCMP investigating possible threat to police after Mirror rally

Online images show RCMP members, vehicles in crosshairs of a rifle

An Israeli attack helicopter launches flares as he flies over the Israeli Gaza border, southern Israel, Thursday, May 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
Singh calls for halt on Canadian arms sales to Israel as violence escalates in region

Government data shows Canada sent $13.7 million in military goods and technology to Israel in 2019

New homes are built in a housing construction development in the west-end of Ottawa on Thursday, May 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Budget’s foreign-homebuyers tax could bring in $509 million over 4 years, PBO says

Liberals are proposing a one per cent tax on vacant homes owned by foreign non-residents

A Canadian flag patch is shown on a soldier’s shoulder in Trenton, Ont., on Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014. The Canadian Forces says it has charged one of its members in the death of an army reservist from British Columbia during a training exercise at a military base in Alberta last year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Lars Hagberg
Canadian Forces member charged in death of army reservist during training exercise

Cpl. Lars Callsen has been charged with one count of negligence

A youth plays basketball in an otherwise quiet court in Toronto on Saturday April 17, 2021. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association is urging the federal and provincial governments to fight COVID-19 pandemic by focusing on proven public health policy interventions including paid sick leave, and education rather than punitive enforcement measures. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Provinces issued more COVID-19 tickets during 2nd wave: CCLA report

‘A pandemic is a public health, not a public order, crisis,’ reads the report

Most Read