Third link: Lévis accused of biased reading of its economic study | 3rd link

According to Professor Meloche, whose research focuses on public finance and urban transportation in Quebec, presenting an economic impact study is simply not irrelevant to determine whether the Québec-Lévis tunnel constitutes good or bad project.

Comparative studies need to be done, he said. Emphasizing that the tunnel could increase gross domestic product (GDP) by $630 million a year once it enters service in 2032 doesn’t tell us enough about the value of the project, he said.

Since we have no comparative study, we are told: “Putting $6.5 billion in Lévis generates economic activity.” For sure! It generates economic activity, no matter where we put it, in any way, in any sector! The study, in itself, is not relevant. »

A quote from Jean-Philippe Meloche, Professor and Director of the School of Urban Planning and Landscaping at the University of Montreal

Jean-Philippe Meloche, Professor and Director of the School of Urban Planning and Landscape Architecture at the University of Montreal

Photo: Jean-Philippe Meloche

Professor Meloche therefore believes that Mayor Gilles Lehouillier offered a biased reading during the presentation of this study carried out by the firm WSP at the request of the City of Lévis at a cost of $65,000 before taxes.

Moreover, in the summary of the study, we note that the mandate given to the firm WSP consisted in highlighting the positive impacts of the tunnel in a context where the project […] has sparked several criticisms and debates about the negative effects it could create.

Insufficient economic benefits

A section of the study on the economic benefits of the future third link for society as a whole, however, caught the attention of Professor Meloche. It calculates the amounts that motorists could save on fuel and vehicle maintenance, for example.

It also calculates the economic benefits of the third link with respect to the reduction in road accidents as well as the environmental benefits related to the reduction of emissions of certain pollutants into the air.

Adding up all these economic benefits, the study concludes that the savings would amount to just under $550,000 per year at peak times.

It’s even worse than I thought, exclaims Jean-Philippe Meloche. Even doubling these economic gains to take into account the whole day, the total would be very far from equaling the sums necessary for the operation and maintenance of the third link, estimated at 25.6 million dollars per year.

It’s as if I were asking you to invest in a project that will cost 25 times more than what it could generate as profits, telling you: “This is a super good project for our region!” »

A quote from Jean-Philippe Meloche, Professor and Director of the School of Urban Planning and Landscaping at the University of Montreal

This is without taking into account the depreciation costs of the infrastructure, adds the professor. From a public money manager’s perspective, no one should think it’s a good investmenthe analyzes.

Invited to comment, the director of economic development and promotion at the City of Lévis recalls that the gains from the tunnel were calculated only for four sectors, that is to say the approach to the Quebec and Pierre-Laporte bridges. in both directions.

It’s only that. We did not extrapolate to the whole regionargues Mr. Meurant, because the data provided by the Third Link Project Office did not allow calculations beyond these specific sectors.

These are significant gains for four small sectors, geographically very limited, around the Quebec and Laporte bridges. »

A quote from Philippe Meurant, director of economic development and promotion at the City of Lévis

Pulled by the hair

During his press conference, Mayor Gilles Lehouillier also pointed out that the third link would lead to an increase in worker productivity of $0.62 per hour.

The prefect of the MRC de Bellechasse, Yvon Dumont, the deputy for Bellechasse, Stéphanie Lachance, and the mayor of Lévis, Gilles Lehouillier, during the press conference on the study of the economic impacts of the Québec-Lévis tunnel.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Louise Boisvert

It is in particular this gain in productivity that makes it possible to affirm that the GDP of the greater Quebec City region would increase with the entry into service of the tunnel.

The firm WSP based itself on an American study which shows that planning efforts aimed at reducing the distances traveled by car can have positive effects on local economies.

However, Professor Meloche points out that this study does not apply to highway projects but rather to development projects that promote non-motorized travel, in particular cycling and walking.

In addition, the firm WSP seems to have calculated productivity gains for Lévis by applying them to all jobs in the city. This is another mistake, according to Professor Meloche, because not all workers will see their travel time reduced by the advent of the third link.

He gives the example of cyclists, pedestrians and motorists who do not have to use bridges or who do not drive around them.

Not only do we quote a study out of context – we use a study result in a context that is not appropriate – but we then extrapolate it to a population that is not affected by the infrastructure. »

A quote from Jean-Philippe Meloche, Professor and Director of the School of Urban Planning and Landscaping at the University of Montreal

The projected increase in GDP is therefore far-fetchedlaments Professor Meloche. It’s not intellectually very rigorous.

Here too, Philippe Meurant displays his disagreement. According to him, the current road congestion is spilling over onto the municipal road networks on both sides of the river, which justifies extrapolating productivity gains to all workers.

It’s obvious that it affects traffic conditions, the mobility of the entire territory of Lévissupports the director of economic development and promotion of the City.

The study, what it confirms, is that employers and employees will benefit from the realization of this project because travel time will be shortened, [non seulement] the duration but also the distance of displacement. »

A quote from Philippe Meurant, director of economic development and promotion at the City of Lévis

According to him, the study is even conservative in its assessment of the increase in productivity and GDP.

Aging infrastructure

Mr. Meurant adds that the news of the last few weeks with fears related to the condition of the suspension lines of the Pierre-Laporte bridge is another argument that makes the Quebec-Lévis tunnel necessary.

One cannot be dependent on two bridges which are threatened for one or the other of serious consequences given the state in which they are. We do not have a choice. It’s really a necessityhe said.

Last Thursday, after the unveiling of the study, the Coalition No to third link issued a press release denouncing the inconsistencies contained in the document.

The analysis of the economic benefits loses credibility due to the lack of comparison and the non-existence of an opportunity study on the third Québec-Lévis link projectwrote the Coalition.

To the detractors of the project, Philippe Meurant replied that unlike the City of Lévis, they did not produce any study on the third link.

“Not to be thrown away”

Monday morning, the mayor of Quebec said he wanted to stay reserved to the findings of this study. Bruno Marchand is still unable to say whether he is for or against the third link.

We will continue to see what the analyzes and the experts say about it. We see that there are certain doubts that are expressed in relation to the added value. Havesaid Mr. Marchand.

According to him, the study is not to be thrown awaybut it is necessary to put into context.

When we ask for a study on the advantages, of course we will not receive a study on the disadvantages. There is something there that is named. I think it brings content. Now we have to go furthersaid Mayor Marchand.

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