An Edmonton man is voicing his concerns about the construction of the Valley Line LRT project and says he has filed for a court injunction to stop work on it until his issues are addressed.
The primary concern being raised by the Mill Woods man, who lives near 35 Avenue and 65 Street, is the city’s plan to relocate a gas line to accommodate the LRT expansion. Chris Christianson is also voicing his opposition to having the tracks laid down on the east side of 66 Street. He says he would rather see the tracks moved to the street’s median.
On Wednesday afternoon, Christianson -flanked by about a dozen neighbours who support him – held a news conference in southeast Edmonton to speak about his frustration and why he is turning to legal action.
“As it (court injunction) was filed, they said they have to cease work,” he said. “So now we want to sit down at the table (and) have a petition with all these landowners – there’s probably 40 now, approximately. They want to be heard.”
Several of Christianson’s supporters said they were also considering legal action.
Watch below: Global News’ ongoing coverage of the Valley Line LRT project.
Earlier in the day, Christianson sent a letter to the media to highlight residents’ concerns.
“We, the residents of 65 Street, are quite concerned about the close proximity of the Valley Line LRT to our property lines and this seems to be why the ATCO gas company wants to move their distribution lines to the front of our properties,” the letter said in part. “By doing this move, they will be tearing up our streets, they would be invading our property again and disrupting a lot of landowners’ lives.”
He also alleged the city, ATCO and EPCOR have not signalled to property owners that they plan to compensate them for “damages, disturbance and nuisance.” He also expressed concern the LRT line will cause traffic congestion if the tracks are not laid down on the median of 66 Street.
A city spokesperson said he became aware of the injunction application Wednesday afternoon and noted the city did not plan any financial compensation to landowners for work being done.
“The city has the right to be doing this work,” Quinn Nicholson, a City of Edmonton spokesperson, said. “In 2011 a decision was made by city council on the alignment as approved. There was a public hearing that accompanied that, there have been other public hearings. If council so chose to change that vote or open a new vote to change the alignment, that would entirely be the prerogative of council.”
Nicholson added the whole reason for the gas line being moved is in fact in order for the city to mitigate noise from the LRT expansion once it is up and running.
“Along the vast majority of 66 Street, we will be building noise walls,” he said. “The complication for this is where we want to put the noise wall – which runs behind people’s properties on 66 Street – is basically right over top of an active gas trunk line that’s maintained by ATCO.”
Nicholson added the mitigation was being done for residents even though the LRT expansion is not in violation of city noise bylaws.
According to Christianson, the reason he is taking the city, ATCO and EPCOR to court to get the work stopped is to get all the parties together to discuss all planning options and to make sure studies on the LRT expansion’s impact on the neighbourhood have been completed.
A city official said the injunction hearing will be held on Monday, the same day work on removing the gas line was set to begin.
-With files from Sarah Kraus.