$1.08B federal-provincial transit deal will help build south Edmonton park & ride

Edmonton's Light Rail Transit.
Edmonton's Light Rail Transit. File, Global News

A new transit agreement between all three levels of government will help fund a badly-needed new park and ride lot in southwest Edmonton, along with 45 other transit projects in the city.

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson, along with provincial and federal ministers Brian Mason and Amarjeet Sohi, announced a new $1.08 billion provincial transit and wastewater funding agreement Thursday in the Legislature Rotunda.

In Edmonton, 46 transit projects will be funded, including planning for the city’s next LRT expansion; upgrades to existing buses, LRT cars and infrastructure; and building a much-needed new park and ride lot on the south side.

“Because of this we will be able to move ahead with the $27-million dollar, much-needed investment in the Heritage Valley park and ride,” said Iveson.

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The demand for more parking is high on the southside, where a lease agreement at Century Park lot – the only LRT park and ride lot south of the river – will be up in four years.

READ MORE: Big jump in paid park and ride stalls at Edmonton LRT stations starts Sept. 1

Sohi, a former Edmonton Transit System driver, talked about how the investment will help the city.

“With projects such as improvements to two northeast LRT crossings, upgrades to safety features at various LRT stations and equipping busses with on board cameras, this means safe travel for drivers, riders and pedestrians as well,” Sohi said. The federal government is providing 50 per cent of the funds, Sohi announced.

Iveson said there are two critical transit policy changes to the agreement: funds for existing system renewal and repair, and eligiblity for planning.

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Edmonton will see $130 million in renewal investments over the next couple of years.

“Now much of that we would have had to do anyways,” Iveson explained, “but again typically we’ve had to bear 100 per cent of the cost of that. This will allow us to accelerate much-needed work.”

Taking a jab at the previous PC government, Mayor Iveson said it was ‘inspiring’ to work with other politicians who understand how to get money to the places it needs to be – the communities where Canadians live.

“Especially big cities where transit projects are going to have a massive impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, helping us build healthier and less congested cities, and ultimately more globally competitive communities,” said the Edmonton mayor.

Iveson has long said the major cities should get more money to reflect the higher population.

WATCH: The demand for spots at Century Park Station is huge and it’s going to get worse. In less than four years, the parking lot lease will expire. Vinesh Pratap explains what that means for the city – and for riders.

Click to play video: 'Century Park lot lease expiring' Century Park lot lease expiring
Century Park lot lease expiring – Jul 5, 2016

The province said the funding will add to the Alberta government’s five-year commitment to invest more than $1.9 billion in municipal water, wastewater and transit projects.

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Brian Mason said the money will help fund major infrastructure projects, which will in turn create well-paying jobs.

“These initiatives not only help Albertans get back to work, they also mean services and quality of life for everyone,” he said.

Transit projects outside of Edmonton and Calgary will be announced in the coming weeks.

Thursday’s agreement also includes 17 water and wastewater projects, such as a regional water supply system extension in Bonnyville that will give residents access to clean and reliable drinking water, supporting future growth and quality of life, and better protecting the local environment.

The money is part of a $120 billion dollar, 10-year federal infrastructure funding plan called “Investing in Canada.” Phase one will provide $11.9 billion in investments to support public transit along with green infrastructure and social infrastructure projects. The government said details on Phase 2 will be announced over the coming months.

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