The federal government is working towards scrapping tolls for pedestrians and cyclists crossing the future Gordie Howe International Bridge.

Canada’s Minister of Infrastructure, Francois-Phillippe Champagne, made the comment in Windsor while speaking with stakeholders on Thursday to discuss community benefits as part of the $5.7-billion project.

“This would be our intention, that there’d be no tolls but, we still need to finalize a few things — but this is our current intention,” said Champagne.

That sat well with Lori Newton of Bike Windsor-Essex.

“Rewarding people by using active transportation and being environmental is a wonderful step forward for the government and we’re thrilled to hear that,” said Newton.

The six-lane bridge is expected to open in 2024 and stand for at least a century.

Those living in Windsor’s Sandwich Town community are pushing for a firm outline of $10 million in community benefits promised as part of the project.

Maryann Cuderman has been following the issue since talk of the bridge started gaining traction in 2002.

“It’s been an interesting journey. It’s like a roller coaster ride. You have your ups and your downs and I think today was an up,” said Cuderman.

Along with the free tolls, another concept discussed at the meeting included money for grassroots community projects.

“They have a project going on, maybe they need a couple thousand here, a couple thousand there, they can access that fund so that way, the bridge will be a good neighbour,” said Cuderman.

Minister Champagne wouldn’t fully commit to anything final — except that he would be the community’s voice at the table.

“It would be presumptuous for a federal minister who landed yesterday to tell the people of Windsor what they should do with the money of the community benefit,” said Champagne. “Decisions which are best made for the community are made by the community.”

The benefits are expected to be revealed sometime in April.