Last December, City Council passed a motion telling the citizens of Edmonton, the Government of Alberta and the Government of Canada that building the southeast leg of the LRT (the Valley Line) was our number one infrastructure priority.
Today, the Government of Alberta announced a $600 million funding commitment to the line, which breaks down as follows:
- Up to $250 million under the second round of GreenTRIP funding;
- Up to $150 million in matching provincial funding if the federal government approves the project under the Building Canada Fund; and
- Up to $200 million in an interest-free loan to be repaid over 10 years.
What does that mean? It means we can embark on building what could be the largest municipal infrastructure project in Alberta’s history, and we can bring rapid public transit from downtown to southeast Edmonton.
I understand that the specifics of the funding commitment might raise some concerns, and Mayor Iveson discussed those during today’s press conference. It’s not exactly $600 million - it’s $400 million and a $200 million loan to be paid back over 10 years - not exactly what we’d asked for. We’re hopeful that this loan will serve as a bridge until additional provincial GreenTRIP funding or grants become available.
Until then, we need to hold the provincial government to their promises, and we need to press for clarity over the long term. Regardless of the funding commitment’s lack of complete clarity, it is progress, and today is a hopeful day.
Through Council’s commitment to LRT as the City’s top priority, focused lobbying, and our Mayor’s tireless efforts, we have $400 million for the Valley Line today that we didn’t have yesterday. More importantly, the province committed this funding because Edmontonians asked them to. They recognize that Edmontonians’ priorities are critical to our province’s economic sustainability. Your voices made this possible.
So let’s be positive, hopeful, and persistent. The Valley Line will go ahead on schedule; construction will begin in 2016. By 2020, people in Mill Woods and Bonnie Doon will be able to take the train to work. And by 2040, Edmonton’s LRT network will be fully built-out. Edmontonians have told us, loud and clear, that they want to see that happen. The Valley Line is only the first step.