Fresh on the heels of what appeared to be disappointing news in the Provincial budget, our counterparts ‘under the dome’ stepped up and showed that Alberta’s capital city is truly worth investing in.
As a result, the largest infrastructure project in our city’s history can now move ahead to procurement.
Today’s announcement came together very quickly, and it began with a Sunday afternoon phone call from Minister Horner while I was playing with my kids. During that call, Minister Horner reiterated his commitment to seeing this project come to life, and we talked about what new funding models might look like. He reaffirmed his government’s commitment to GreenTrip money, then suggested additional dollars could be found to match the Federal Government’s Building Canada commitments. The third piece of the funding puzzle – and the one that required the most creativity – was a 10-year, interest free loan to the city for $200 million.
This $200 million bridge financing is key for several reasons. First of all, it allows us to avoid losing another construction season which – by some estimates – might have cost us upwards of $60 million. Secondly, it allows both the City and the Province time to identify and allocate additional funds to pay the loan back. I expect these funds could take the form of future GreenTrip funds over the construction period, but options on both sides of the table are wide open. From my perspective, the risk in assuming this interest-free bridge financing is low – and without it, the project would still be stalled.
Today we can start to picture a transformed downtown in real terms. We can do more than simply imagine a smoother commute from Millwoods. And our plans for transit-oriented development along the line can finally start to rise off the page.
Today we got our future in writing.