‘The federal government is giving us $200 million less than what we need’: Edmonton councillor on LRT funding

WATCH ABOVE: A federal government commitment has been made to fund the first phase of the Valley Line LRT project, but as Jessica Kent reports, it’s not nearly as much as other cities are getting.

EDMONTON — A battle is brewing between the City of Edmonton and federal government over funding for the new Valley Line LRT.

A federal commitment has been made for funding for the first phase of the project, but Edmonton isn’t receiving as much as other cities.

“I’m really concerned that we are not being treated fairly by the Harper government,” said Ward 12 City Councillor Amarjeet Sohi, who is also running for the federal Liberal Party.

Sohi said the federal government initially capped its spending for phase one of the Valley Line LRT at 25 per cent. It then promised $400 million for the $1.8-billion project, which works out to be 22 per cent.

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Sohi said other cities are receiving upwards of one-third, or 33 per cent, of the funding for similar projects from the feds and that’s not right.

“The federal government is giving us $200 million less than what we need and what we should be getting,” Sohi said Saturday.

Toronto will received up to $2.6 billion; Ottawa will get $1 billion; and announced Friday, Calgary’s new Green Line will receive $1.5 billion.

“We were always asking for a one-third commitment from the federal government and that’s what we got today,” Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said Friday.

For Edmonton, a one-third funding commitment would be $600 million.

“Even if they match one-third funding for Edmonton, we will still be getting far less than what Calgary and Ottawa is getting. They are similar-sized cities,” said Sohi.

“We’re not asking for more, we’re saying give us the same amount of commitment, same amount of support that you give to other municipalities.”

Sohi said if Edmonton doesn’t receive the one-third funding commitment, the burden will eventually fall on taxpayers.

“In the future when we need that $200 million, we would have to raise property taxes.”

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In a tweet sent on Friday, Mayor Don Iveson said council is not done asking.

If the federal funding does come through, the Valley Line will be split in equal thirds, with one-third coming from the federal government, provincial government and the city.

The completion date for phase one of the Valley Line LRT is 2020.

With files from Jessica Kent, Global News.

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