Frustratingly, we have been forced to delay on account of inadequate support from the other orders of government. There’s no shortage of commitment from this Council, which has pledged $800 million toward the $1.8 billion dollar project. (As a matter of fact, I have argued we should be leveraging more LRT, ideally to West Edmonton Mall for that kind of money, at 20-30 cents on the dollar like Ontario and BC cities manage, rather than 44 cents on the dollar like we’ve committed to for Phase One of this line).
No doubt this is a real disappointment to people in the Southeast who’ve been waiting patiently for decades, as it is for the rest of us who want to see our LRT system grow. Yesterday I commended Councillor Sohi, who has been a champion for this project, for being remarkably restrained given the disappointment; he opened up to Paula Simons today about it, (and she provided an excellent analysis).
As Mayor I would look forward to working with Councillor Sohi and the new rep for Ward 11, and all of council, from day one to get this project moving again.
I support aggressive expansion of our LRT system city-wide first and foremost because it’s integral to the vision Edmontonians have for a modern city. It’s consistently one of your highest priorities for infrastructure. And that’s a city-wide vision. I’ve seen what a difference it can make in the Southwest when LRT opened up in 2009 and 2010. So it’s frustrating that we’re likely going to lose a year, and that the cost will likely rise.
This is lost opportunity for Edmonton.
And we’ll keep losing other opportunities, as we did Monday with the Molson brewery site decision, which was made more complex because of the real uncertainty about when (and even, for some, if) LRT will wind its way down 104 Ave.
Even our neighbours in the region support LRT expansion – having voted overwhelmingly at the Capital Region Board to support a 30-year regional vision for Transit, a vision that relies upon the LRT network as foundational to the regional transportation system. As Chair of the Regional Transit Committee I’ve worked to build support for LRT from our neighbours, since leveraging dollars from other orders of government will be easier with their support, and their citizens will benefit too. A regional vision, the kind that got the Henday built in less than 20 years, will help get the whole system built faster – to all parts of Edmonton and beyond where it makes sense, like St. Albert.
I encourage transit advocates not to lose heart – eventually the conditions will be right to get the commitments we need to complete the entire network in a timely fashion. Delivering on LRT is one of the main reasons I’m running for Mayor.