Ottawa city council approves funding for stage 2 of LRT

Ottawa city council voted to approve the budget for stage 2 of the LRT system at the council meeting on Wednesday. Beatrice Britneff / Global News

The city will prepare to spend $4.66 billion on the next step of the new LRT system as council voted to pass the budget at their meeting on Wednesday.

Some councillors had concerns about the transparency, or lack thereof, in the agreements and the short amount of time that councillors had to share the content agreements with their constituents.

WATCH: Sneak peek of the Ottawa LRT

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Sneak peek of the Ottawa LRT – May 2, 2018

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Coun. Catherine McKenney put forth a motion asking for the decision to be deferred until later this month in order for councillors to get a more comprehensive look at the agreement. This would also allow councillors to hold more public consultation.

That motion was defeated.

“Any delays from this point on will result in schedule delays and pricing increases,” said Mayor Jim Watson.

Watson went on to say that the rural wards would be hit the hardest as a delay in procedures would push back the extensions into Riverside South, and Kanata and Orléans even further away.

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The $4.66-billion project was initially pegged at $3.4 billion, a shift of over $1.2 billion.

The vote to fund phase 2 was approved even before the keys for phase 1 were handed over after it was announced at FEDCO on Tuesday that it would be delayed for a third time until Q2 of this year.

According to a report submitted to council at a special meeting last Friday, with this approval, construction will begin in 2019 with the slated end of construction scheduled for 2023.

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The extension will have service extend out to Trim Road in the east, the airport and Riverside South in the south and out to Moodie Drive in the west.

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Also outlined in the report is the closure of Trillium line for the 27 months while construction of the extension is done. A detour will be in place during that time.

The city is relying on funding from the federal and provincial levels of government in order to fund almost half of the project.

While staff and council say federal funding is all but guaranteed, there is skepticism on whether or not the province will keep their promise.

Watson, though, says there’s nothing to worry about as Premier Ford has said that he is on board to help fund phase 2.

According to City staff, the City will be taking on $1.6 billion in debt to pay for the project with an interest rate between 3.5 and 4.75 per cent over the 30-year amortization period, costing the city around a $1 billion in interest.

The vote to pass the budget passed 19-3 with councillors Shawn Menard, Diane Deans and Rick Chiarelli voting against the budget.


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