Alberta Premier Alison Redford says Edmonton could re-allocate money to move ahead on LRT
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Alberta Premier Alison Redford said the province is providing plenty of funding to the city for the Southeast LRT project and if the city shifts priorities it can make it happen.
Redford said the provincial government provides money through the Municipal Sustainability Initiative and the Green Trip program that could be allocated to the project and it is up to local governments to decide what their priorities are.
“Six months ago, for the City of Edmonton, it was the arena and so they committed some of their provincial money to that,” she said. “At the end of the day, it’s not about me deciding whether the Southeast LRT is a priority for Edmonton.”
The $1.8 billion LRT line, which would run from Mill Woods to downtown, was delayed last fall because the city is still waiting for money from the provincial and federal governments.
The city has committed $800 million to the project and has an additional $250 million committed from the federal government along with $235 million left unallocated in the province’s Green Trip program, which it hopes to put toward the project.
That still leaves the project $515 million short, with the city hoping $150 million will come from the federal government and $365 million will come from the province.
Redford said the province is watching its own bottom line and she can’t commit the funds.
“The provincial government needs to make responsible spending decisions it is not a bottomless pit of money,” she said.
Redford said she is hoping for a new, more modern relationship with the province’s big cities that might help advance LRT plans, but any conversation about new tax powers would also have to include reductions in provincial transfers.
“We are open to a lot of those conversations, but people particularly in those two cities, need to understand that it is a two-sided conversation,” she said.
Redford said she doesn’t want to play a role in rising taxes.
“We are not going to give any municipal leaders carte blanche to just go out and keep raising taxes,” she said.