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Feds greenlight $400M for Capital LRT line Phase 1 work


Canada's infrastructure minister was in Edmonton on Tuesday to announce nearly $400 million in federal dollars had been greenlighted for the city's Capital Line South Phase 1 extension project. 

The 4.5-kilometre line from Century Park to Ellerslie Road is expected to reduce commute times, create 9,500 construction jobs, and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 269,000 tonnes by 2050. 

The federal money had been previously allocated, but Tuesday marked the city finally having the last approvals needed from both levels of higher government and its capital profiles in order. 

"With taxpayer dollars, we're creating jobs and growing the economy, we're tackling climate change, we’re helping build more inclusive communities, and we're getting people around in faster, cleaner and more affordable ways," Infrastructure and Communities Minister Catherine McKenna said during a news conference that morning at the Century Park LRT station. 

The money will also be used to help build an operations, maintenance and storage facility, and purchase 24 electric vehicles in the expansion of the Heritage Valley Park and Ride facility.

Edmonton has a goal to offer public transit in all city sectors by 2040. The Capital line will run under 23 Avenue and over Anthony Henday Drive, and in a future phase, be extended over Ellerslie Road.

The maintenance facility is a key part to the future building of the northwest LRT extension to Castle Downs, Mayor Don Iveson said, because it will serve the entire line.

"It's a heart breaker for folks in the northwest who are as enthusiastic about getting light rail as anyone else," the mayor commented. "But there is a ray of hope with permanent transit funding that there'll a sustainable, predictable source of funding – again, subject to the province coming to the table – to go both northwest and south. And once we have the maintenance facility, it's a fair fight for which one's going to go next, but the maintenance facility was the critical path kind of bottleneck thing that needed to happen."

That future work will be need to be funded by Ottawa's permanent transit fund, a first-of-its-kind pot that will see $3 billion handed out annually starting 2026-27, with matching comittments for projects from provincial governments. 

Billions have been pledged by the federal government toward building and expanding public transit across the country. Recently, Ottawa announced it will contribute half of a $3.4 billion project to create a light-rail transit line in Hamilton, Ont. In its budget in February, the federal government earmarked $15 billion for shovel-ready projects. 

"Public transit is incredibly important. It's about getting people to and from their work, their homes, faster. But it's also about climate action," McKenna said.  

"You have fires that are burning, literally incinerating, towns in a matter of hours. When you consider that in B.C., seniors are dying because of the extreme heat. If you look at Europe, Europe had floods that they had never seen before. The equivalent of three months of rain over three days. Climate change is real, it is accelerating, and it is on all of us to take advantage of the solutions that already exist, including good public transit, electric buses." 

She noted the conference in Edmonton was likely to be her last visit to Alberta's capital city while she is still in the federal office, and thanked Iveson for his leadership. The mayor also does not intend to rerun for office. 

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 569 members attended the Tuesday announcement with signs denouncing the contracting out of cleaning and other jobs in Edmonton and St. Albert. Top Stories

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