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Saskatoon looking to capitalize on federal transit dollars for BRT

Click to play video: 'Saskatoon looking to capitalize on federal transit dollars for BRT' Saskatoon looking to capitalize on federal transit dollars for BRT
WATCH: Saskatoon's mayor hopes the city can help finance a transit project with federal funding after Ottawa made billions of dollars available for public transportation projects – Feb 15, 2021

Saskatoon’s mayor is looking into how the city will be able to work towards picking up some federal dollars for the city’s bus rapid transit (BRT) project.

Charlie Clark said it was positive to hear the federal government’s commitment to public transit projects but said he’s hoping to hear more about the details of how the city can make the most of the federal dollars.

“We need to get an agreement between the provincial, federal and our government to get that money rolling so we can get people working in our community. It will be a very key part of the recovery from the pandemic as a stimulus to start building out that BRT,” the mayor told Global News Friday.

He went on to say the city is looking at creating a downtown arena and setting up a transit system is vital for moving people in and out of the core.

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Read more: Saskatoon mayoral candidates clash on bus rapid transit plans

Clark added more than 17,000 people use Saskatoon transit as their primary means of transportation.

Last week, the city put forward a plan to create a permanent outdoor festival site along the South Saskatchewan River near Friendship Park.

Read more: $14.9B promised to Canadian cities for ‘major public transit projects’

Last week, the prime minister announced the federal government would allocate nearly $15 billion towards public transit projects in cities across the country.

About $5.9 billion would be put towards projects that are ready for construction to start in the next five years.

Ottawa would allocate $3 billion annually to be awarded on a case-by-case basis starting in 2026-2027.

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The city estimates the BRT project would cost between $150 and $200 million.

In April 2019, council passed a BRT plan with three lines — two moving east and west and one travelling north and south.

Read more: Bus rapid transit routes approved by Saskatoon city council

The downtown business improvement district said 18,000 to 20,000 people work in the core and offering travel options coming out of a pandemic is a good idea. Its executive director is hopeful that the funding will help tie everything together for the proposed downtown projects.

“Now is the time I think to make sure as a community we have the types of things that are going to position Saskatoon where it needs to be for the next 40 or 50 years,” Brent Penner said.

He noted how important transit can be for other centres when events are taking place.

“For anyone who has been to those events in other communities across Canada, North America or globally for that matter, transit is a big part of that,” Penner added.

Construction for BRT is expected to start in 2022.

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