News / Ottawa

Federal government pledges $1 billion for phase two of Ottawa LRT

With an election on the horizon, the federal Conservatives have promised $1 billion in funding for phase two of Ottawa’s light rail transit project.

Ottawa-Orleans MP Royal Galipeau confirmed Wednesday the long-awaited money from the Conservative government that have been earmarked to fund phase two of the $3 billion project, which will extend the LRT farther east, west and south for a combined 30 kilometres of rail and 19 stations.

Galipeau said concerns over balancing the federal budget stalled his government from announcing the commitment sooner.

"The ink wasn’t dry on the cheque for phase 1 and they wanted another billion dollars,” said Galipeau in a phone interview with Metro.

“My response at the time was we prefer to deal with cities that do planning. And it’s obvious the City of Ottawa knows how to do its planning. But, just because they have it on their wish list doesn’t really mean that they’re going to get it. We have our own priorities and our priorities are basically to balance the books. I didn’t know back then out thin air if I could get a billion dollars.”

A statement from Mayor Jim Watson’s office said it was a “historic” commitment – one that Galipeau defended as having nothing to do with the upcoming election.

“I didn’t want the announcement during an election. This is not an election promise. It’s a government decision,” he said.

“The work is done. The work has been going on since October 2013.”

In a letter sent to Watson from Galipeau on Wednesday, the MP said the funding for phase two “reflects our understanding that Canada’s largest cities depend on public transit infrastructure to fight gridlock, reduce congestion for people and businesses and support economic development.

“We have created an excellent partnership for the Confederation Line, and I am pleased this will continue as we work to extend LRT farther east, west and south with Stage 2," he said.

Now, the mayor is relying on a formal commitment from Premier Kathleen Wynne, who has previously indicated that she plans to support the project.

The Confederation Line, the 12.5-kilometre first phase of LRT from Blair to Tunney’s Pasture, will be completed in 2018. Then, shovels will hit the ground for the second phase.

The federal government also pitched in $761 million for the first phase of the LRT.