OTTAWA, Ont. — The Federal Government has announced that the International Bridges and Tunnels Act, formerly known as Bill C-3, has received Royal Assent. This legislation will provide the federal government with the legislative authority to ensure effective oversight of the existing 24 international vehicular bridges and tunnels and nine international railway bridges and tunnels, as well as any new international bridges or tunnels built in the future.
Jurisdiction for international bridges and tunnels was assigned to the federal government under the Constitution Act, 1867. Despite this, no clear authority existed to regulate matters concerning approvals for the construction of new, or the alteration of existing, bridges or tunnels; approvals for changes in ownership, operation or control; and issues concerning maintenance, operations, safety and security. In the past, most international bridges and tunnels were built only after a special act of Parliament was enacted.
“This legislation will help us ensure that these bridges and tunnels continue to be safe and well-maintained, security plans are put in place and that this countrys vital trade links are preserved,” said the Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities. “It will also provide the federal government with the powers to grant approval to build new international bridges and tunnels, to alter existing bridges and tunnels and impose necessary terms and conditions to protect the public interest.” Highlights of the new act include:
The Minister, through the governor-in-council, has the power to make regulations concerning the safety, security, operation and use of international bridges and tunnels.
The Minister will have the authority to issue an emergency directive in response to a potential threat to the safety or security of any international bridge or tunnel.
This act replaces the need to enact a special act of Parliament for the construction of any new international bridge or tunnel.
In order to help protect the safety, security and efficiency of the transportation system, Ministerial approval will be required for transactions that result in changes in ownership or the operation of any international bridge or tunnel.
While the act has received Royal Assent, some provisions of the bill, such as the requirement to obtain governor-in-council approval for the construction or alteration of an international bridge or tunnel, will come into effect once a decree is obtained from the governor-in-council. Other provisions related to safety and security will require the development of regulations or directives and will come into effect at a later date.
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