Feds double up on Johnson Street bridge funding

Provincial government still absent from financial picture for Victoria project

Victoria was counting on $8 million in gas tax funding, but was surprised to receive more than twice that amount for the Johnson Street bridge replacement project.

The city will now receive $16.5 million from Canada’s gas tax fund. The federal government had earlier contributed $21 million from the Building Canada Fund, bringing the total contribution to almost half of the estimated cost of the $77-million project.

On Saturday, Mississauga-Brampton MP and Parliamentary Secretary Eve Adams announced the grant at the bridge construction site.

“The replacement of the Johnson Street Bridge is the single most important infrastructure project undertaken by the City of Victoria,” said Mayor Dean Fortin. “This unprecedented investment by the federal government is deeply appreciated by our city.”

The funding announcement is also good news for the Capital Regional District.

Back in June, the CRD board agreed to allocate $8 million to the bridge, from the regional monies it expects to receive from the federal gas tax. With the city winning its own gas tax grant, the CRD board can now reallocate that $8 million to other regionally significant projects.

During Saturday’s announcement, Ida Chong, Liberal MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head, also took part. Her presence drew criticism from Victoria-Hillside NDP MLA Rob Fleming.

“She took credit for basically what is a flow-through agreement,” he said.

The Union of B.C. Municipalities allocates federal dollars within B.C., with some input from the province.

The B.C. government has not, however, contributed any provincial money to the bridge replacement project to date.

rholmen@vicnews.com