Budget 2017: Edmonton poised to accelerate expansion of Metro Line and West LRT
Mayor Don Iveson says he’s now waiting on the province fund its share
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Big transit bucks from the feds over the long term has Edmonton one step closer to some long-awaited LRT expansions.
But that comes with “a big asterisk on it,” Mayor Don Iveson said over the phone from Ottawa Wednesday.
Iveson's remarks come after the federal budget tabled Wednesday show the Liberals are committing $20.1 billion over 11 years for public transit. The money will be divided by a formula that takes both ridership numbers and provincial population into account.
“Alberta’s share of those funds and Edmonton’s share of that should be sufficient to accelerate out work and fund the West LRT extension and fund the Blatchford extension of the Metro Line,” he said.
The catch? The provincial government still has to pony up, because transit projects are generally split three ways.
But Iveson is hopeful — the province indicated last week that Edmonton’s Valley Line extension is a good candidate for funds raised by the carbon levy.
“The green fund is available to municipalities to fund transit and particularly LRT projects,” infrastructure minister Brian Mason said last week.
Iveson said he was told the federal government will transfer the funds, rather than requiring the city to apply for a grant.
“The transfers will be predictable and sustained for municipalities to be able to plan for a decade to come,” Iveson said.
Iveson said the city’s next steps are to finish the design-work for the expansion of both lines and, if the province comes on board, start looking for bidders to begin construction.
“We need to get it right,” he said. “My definition of getting it right is property taxpayers not paying too much to keep up with the federal government’s enhanced level on investment for transit.”