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2020 or 2021 “reasonable” timeline for southeast LRT completion: Mayor

EDMONTON- A 2019 completion date for the southeast LRT line is becoming less and less likely, due to missing funds.

“Our hands are tied, that we don’t have the resources on our own to build the aspirations of our own people,” said Ward 12 City Councillor, Amarjeet Sohi. “If it has to be delayed, it has to be delayed. That’s not in our control.”

The $1.8 billion Valley Line, which would see the LRT extended from downtown to Mill Woods, is still short $515 million. Council learned of the shortfall in June.

The City has committed $800 million to the Valley Line and $250 million has been secured in P3 funding.

Current City planning documents state the southeast LRT line will be open in 2019. But for that to happen paperwork for the project has to start in October, and that paperwork can’t start until all of the funding is in place.

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The City has been working with both the provincial and federal governments to try to get the funding in place. However, despite its best efforts, the money has not been secured.

“Those conversations have been positive… We will continue to negotiate and advocate to the province and to the federal government for funding,” Sohi explained.

“We cannot afford to borrow another $515 million. We can backstop it if we have the commitment from them. But until we have that commitment, I don’t think we can proceed.”

Mayor Stephen Mandel says he hopes to get a more concrete plan in place before the next council takes over. But says without the help of the province and federal government, this project likely won’t be finished by October 2019, as originally planned.

“We’ve had great support from P3 Canada and we’ve got great support from the province to a point. We need to finalize the other parts of the money and it can’t really be part of our normal allocation for MSI because we have lots of projects to do for the citizens of Edmonton,” Mandel explained Wednesday afternoon.

“I think we have to realistic. By the time we get all the funding in place, I think 2020 or 2021 is reasonable,” he said. “We’d like everything to move ahead as fast as possible, but you can’t without the money.”

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The next report on this project will come forward to a new City Council in November.

With files from Vinesh Pratap, Global News.