News / Edmonton

Edmonton city council presses ahead with South East LRT

The next section of the city’s LRT will almost certainly be privately run under a financial arrangement council finalized Wednesday.

The south east LRT, which will create a new line running from Millwoods right into the heart of downtown will be built with a public private partnership, which will see a private company manage the operations.

Under a motion passed Wednesday, the city will ask the provincial government for $600 million, will pay $800 million of the cost itself and ask the federal government for $400 million through their private public partnership deal.

If the city stepped away from the privatization approach they would likely not received the federal government’s dollars.

Unions raised alarm about the private partnership, but Mayor Stephen Mandel said it was the best value for the city.

“If you want to have a P3 that is going to include the maxium amount of money for the citizens of Edmonton you have to have operations included.”

The concerns over privatization consumed little of the public debate Wednesday, instead some councillors worried the city wasn’t asking for enough grant dollars.

“I could see my way to spending $800 million for LRT, but I want to get $2 billion or $3 billion of LRT for it,” said Coun. Don Iveson who said the province and federal government should pay more.

Coun. Amarjeet Sohi agreed with Iveson, but said it was very important not to get bogged down hoping for a perfect deal while an important part of the city was still without LRT.

“It is very easy to say no, but it about equity. It is about equity of people who have been waiting for 15, 20 or 30 years for this project,” said Sohi.

Provided funding is in place, the city hopes to start construction on the line in 2015.

The line will run from Mill Woods all the way downtown with the last stop being at city centre mall. The new is planned to eventually run out past West Edmonton Mall, but it will not intersect with the current system.

More on Metronews.ca