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Quebec’s Bill 61 Establishes Transportation Infrastructure Agency With Wide-Ranging Powers | Blakes

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On May 9, 2024, Quebec’s Minister of Transport and Sustainable Mobility (Minister), Geneviève Guilbault, introduced Bill 61, An Act enacting the Act respecting Mobilité Infra Québec and amending certain provisions relating to shared transportation (Bill 61). Bill 61 establishes the province’s new transportation infrastructure agency, Mobilité Infra Québec (MIQ). MIQ’s main mission would be to conduct opportunity analyses for complex transportation projects and plan or carry out such projects when mandated by the Government of Quebec (Government), with a view to sustainable mobility.

Jurisdiction

Pursuant to Bill 61, MIQ would have sole jurisdiction over complex transportation projects for which the Government would mandate it to plan or carry out. Bill 61 does not provide a clear definition for the concept of a “complex transportation project,” other than to set out, without limiting itself thereto, the objectives that it may seek to achieve. Therefore, it can be assumed that the Government would determine a project’s “complex” nature. Moreover, despite what might have been implied by the vast amounts of information that circulated before Bill 61 was tabled, complex transportation projects would not be limited to public transit (or, as Bill 61 puts it, “shared transportation”). MIQ’s authority over projects entrusted to it by the Government would supersede that of other agencies having jurisdiction over transportation in the province, such as the Autorité régionale de transport métropolitain (ARTM).

In addition, Bill 61 provides that MIQ would not be responsible for operating a shared transportation system in connection with a complex shared transportation project entrusted to it. Such responsibility would have to be the subject of an agreement between the Minister and, as applicable, a local municipality, a public transit authority, the Réseau de transport métropolitain (RTM), the ARTM, or any other body. Bill 61 also provides that the operator of a shared transportation system would bear the financial responsibility for its operation.

While MIQ would not be responsible for operating a shared transportation system, Bill 61 does provide that it would be responsible for acquiring all the assets required to operate such a system, such as rolling stock. This underscores the Government’s intention to entrust MIQ with the task of carrying out integrated projects. It should, therefore, be expected that the abovementioned agreements between the Minister and operators would have to be reached early in the process to avoid any interface or integration issues.

In keeping with sustainable development and carbon footprint reduction principles, MIQ would have the authority to plan the coordination of Quebec’s various transportation services, as well as the maintenance, improvement and replacement of transportation equipment and infrastructure. Bill 61 does not, however, address the issue of funding for these activities.

In carrying out its mission and functions, MIQ may also enter into an agreement with a ministry or body of the Government, as well as with any other person. It may also enter into an agreement with a government other than that of Quebec or an international organization, in accordance with the law, notably under provisions of the Act respecting the Ministère du Conseil exécutif

Bill 61 does not mention MIQ’s role in applying the Act respecting transport infrastructure partnerships, even though complex infrastructure projects fall within the latter’s scope.

Organization

MIQ would be administered by a nine-member board of directors, which would include the Deputy Minister of Transport or its representative. The Government may appoint MIQ vice-presidents in the number it determines.  

Bill 61 sets out that MIQ employees would be appointed based on the staffing plan established by MIQ and that bargaining units for collective agreements would be predetermined. Of note, the initial members of MIQ’s board of directors would not be subject to the provisions of sections 3.1 and 3.3 of the Act respecting the governance of state-owned enterprises pertaining to the expertise and experience profiles of board members.

Ownership

Pursuant to Bill 61, MIQ would be allowed to acquire, by expropriation, immovables it considers necessary to carry out its mission. Such acquisitions may be made on its behalf or that of the Government, a local municipality, a public transit authority, the RTM or the ARTM.

Ultimately, property built or rebuilt by MIQ would be owned by the local municipality, the public transit authority having jurisdiction, the RTM or the ARTM, depending on the nature of the property. However, the Government would reserve the right to claim ownership of the property or assign it to any other person it determines.

Coordination with Municipalities

Bill 61 sets out that for purposes of planning or carrying out a complex transportation project, MIQ and a relevant municipality may agree to certain elements relating to the temporary occupation, modification or reconfiguration of public roads. If no agreement is entered into, Bill 61 provides for an advance notice procedure pursuant to which MIQ would have the power to carry out the proposed temporary occupation and projected modifications or reconfigurations. 

Conclusion

The creation of MIQ is not a unique occurrence. Several provinces and territories, including Quebec, have established nimble organizations that bring together project planning and implementation expertise to successfully complete complex infrastructure projects, such as the Maison Symphonique de Montréal and the Autoroute 25 bridge. It remains to be seen what impact MIQ will have on shared transportation projects in Quebec if Bill 61 is passed.

Please read our complementary Blakes Bulletin: Quebec’s Bill 62 Introduces Major Reforms to the Province’s Infrastructure Sector.

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