Newfoundland and Labrador and Quebec have plans for more economic co-operation along their interprovincial border, premiers Dwight Ball and Philippe Couillard announced Wednesday.
The two premiers are in Edmonton for meetings of the Council of the Federation. The provinces have targeted two issues of common interest: the development of the Labrador Trough and the extension of Highway 138 on the lower north shore of Quebec. The two governments plan to negotiate an agreement by the end of 2017 in order to implement it by the beginning of 2018.
Ball said the two governments share a common interest in the Labrador Trough, where several mining projects are located along the border between Quebec and Labrador.
“Partnerships between provinces benefit all Canada,” Ball said in a statement. “Today’s agreement marks a positive step in that direction as it could create new mining activity in Labrador West and improve the transportation network between our province and mainland Canada.”
The provinces will also assess the feasibility of creating a new economic corridor through Routes 138 and 510. This is based on Quebec’s completion of the extension of Route 138 to Blanc Sablon.
For its part, along with improvements to Route 510, the government of Newfoundland and Labrador will continue updating the feasibility study of constructing a fixed link between Labrador and Newfoundland. Ball says the work has the potential to create a new transportation corridor enabling new opportunities for businesses and residents.
“A co-operative agreement between Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador will make it possible to implement joint projects for the benefit of our citizens,” Couillard said. “By encouraging the responsible development of northern natural resources and facilitating access to the land, this will be another tool that will help us achieve the objectives of our Plan Nord.”
The premiers said there were no discussions of hydroelectric issues. Couillard said the provinces can work together on other issues while they wait on the results of court challenges of the Churchill Falls contract.
Ball deferred to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau when he was asked about Couillard’s proposal to reopen the Constitution.