Closing the loop on a campaign promise (and two previous posts from October of 2010 and February of 2012) I can report a mix of good and bad news after today’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee discussion of the merits of adding a station between Southgate and Century Park.
The good news: the report responding to my formal inquiry indicate that it is feasible to build a station at 40th Avenue while continuing to operate the LRT between Southgate and Century Park; Transportation also agreed that current Council policy on LRT design would call for more frequent placement of stations; and, the report confirms that a station would be relevant to a number of possible redevelopment sites in the neighbourhood.
The bad news: my fellow committee members did not support my motion to allow project to advance to budget to contend for conceptual design funding (roughly $100K) that would better nail down the costs of the project (estimated at $22 million ‘at the high end’ according to the General Manager of Transportation).
Sadly, the committee also nixed a motion to examine whether there are any other opportunities to add stations along the existing line. The argument was that they were unwilling to look at improvements to the current line until the rest of the LRT network is finished; I can see that point, but my vision is to make LRT work for as much of the City as possible, including allowing for enhancing our existing billion-dollar investment with a modest upgrade to make it relevant to areas it already travels through.
To be clear, I wouldn’t for a moment want this to come at the expense of LRT expansion elsewhere in the City. Instead, I suggested we might be able to piggy back this on a future expansion of the high-floor line for some cost efficiencies.
One other point worth flagging for future consideration is that the station, if and when one is built, would come with the expectation of changes in zoning and expanded development opportunity near the station and perhaps along 40th Avenue. There is a chicken and egg question in the distance, however, about how redevelopment will occur when this 45-year old area begins to turn over in future decades: with a station, it will evolve towards Council’s vision of modest increases in density, increased transportation choice, more opportunities for walkable neighbourhood businesses, and better city-wide access to the high schools and recreation centre. Without a station it will remain much the same.
But these questions, and which order to tackle them, will fall to a future Council.