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City expects New Building Canada Fund will help with LRT expansion

EDMONTON – Edmonton’s mayor is hopeful that the federal government’s New Building Canada Fund will help pay for the LRT expansion to Mill Woods.

“This is very, very encouraging,” said Mayor Don Iveson.

“There are some promising elements in there.  It looks like we’ll be able to apply for the southeast LRT project.”

City Council has made the Valley Line — which would see the LRT extended from downtown to Mill Woods — its number one infrastructure priority. However, the project remains $515 million short.

The City has committed $800 million to the Valley Line and $250 million has been secured in P3 funding.

Many city councillors expected Tuesday’s federal budget would include $150 million allocated to Edmonton from the Building Canada Fund.

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READ MORE: Edmonton City Council hoping for LRT funding as feds prepare to table budget 

It wasn’t included in the budget, but on Thursday, Harper’s Tories announced the New Building Canada Fund which will provide funding support for infrastructure in Canada over the next 10 years.

“Local MPs have been remarkably supportive, actually, of our application,” added Iveson.  “They’ve heard loud and clear that this is the top infrastructure priority for our council and for our city, and they’ve been very supportive. They’ve been giving us very positive indications.”

Alberta’s allocation of the $14 billion fund over the 10 years is just over $940 million.

“So, it should cover the southeast LRT,” said Iveson. “How much would be left for other projects, though, it’s a little too soon to speculate about those numbers.”

The New Building Canada Fund relies on cost sharing, which is why the city is waiting on details of the provincial budget, set to come down the first week of March.

“Why would the province not help us build such a great project that Edmontonians want and also aligns with their long term goal of creating dynamic, forward looking municipalities?” asked Councillor Amarjeet Sohi.

“If the funding isn’t there, then someone else will have to explain why it’s going to cost another $60 or 80 million in delays,” added Iveson.

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READ MORE: City pushes forward with LRT plans to Mill Woods despite funding shortfall 

The original Building Canada Fund was launched in 2007. According to the government, it has provided billions of dollars in stable and flexible funding for infrastructure across the country over seven years.

The new plan, the Harper government says, will build on the original one, and will get further feedback from partners and stakeholders before launching in the spring.

In a news release, the government said the new plan will “support projects that focus on economic growth, job creation and productivity, including building roads, bridges, subways, commuter rail and other public infrastructure.”

The City hopes to have the Valley Line running by 2020.

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