GATINEAU, Que. — It’s been just a fantasy for years, but the federal Transport Minister is suggesting it’s time to make consistent national regulations a reality. Provincial and territorial ministers from across Canada gathered in Gatineau, Que. recently as a part of a forum to discuss highway safety and transportation issues. According to Lawrence Cannon, federal Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, the government is moving forward with national fuel consumption regulations for new cars and light-duty trucks beginning with the 2011 model year. “I have expressed concern to my provincial colleagues regarding the development of separate regulations to deal with greenhouse gases from cars and light duty trucks. We need a national approach and we need national consistency if we are to reach our greenhouse gas reduction targets,” stated Cannon. “Only by working together can we ensure that transportation in Canada will remain sustainable, safe, secure, modern and efficient.” The federal government began its co-operation campaign with infrastructure funding, which began with the launch of the Building Canada plan in November 2007. After taking a backburner position for a few decades, infrastructure funding is finally forthcoming. Nearly every jurisdiction in Canada is slated for a major construction project, mostly joint efforts between the federal government and provinces. “We have planned for the future, so that we can continue to drive the economy and ensure a stronger, safer, and better Canada,” Cannon said. “The Building Canada Infrastructure Plan is $33 billion worth of investments in roads, public transit, gateways, trade corridors and border crossings.” Cannon will also be looking for co-operation amongst the provincial ministers when it comes to other regulations that are set to be discussed, including speed limiters. “I look forward to discussing the remaining items on our agenda, which include issues related to transportation safety and regulations, and areas of further collaboration,” noted Cannon. “We will also discuss the very encouraging findings of studies on the issue of speed limiters for heavy commercial trucks.” Also announced, Transport Canada is moving ahead with plans to step up oversight of the nation’s privately owned or operated bridges and tunnels. Under the International Bridges and Tunnels Act, there will be new requirements concerning reporting and scheduled inspections as well as maintenance and operations, including frequency and type performed, inspection results, the type of vehicles permitted and any restrictions placed on them. "These proposed regulations, coupled with the recently published alteration, construction, ownership and operation guidelines, will provide a consistent approach to ensuring that all international bridge and tunnel structures are properly managed and maintained," said Minister Cannon. The proposed regulations will help satisfy Ottawa’s oversight responsibility of such structures. There are currently 24 international vehicular bridges and tunnels, and nine international railway structures with various forms of ownership and governance structures.
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