City pushes forward with LRT plans to Mill Woods, despite funding shortfall

EDMONTON – City Council has approved the start of the expropriation process on more than a dozen properties needed for the expansion of Edmonton’s LRT line to Mill Woods – and the move isn’t sitting well with some.

“We’ve really tried to minimize, I think, the negative effects on people. But there are going to be a few people that will be affected,” Councillor Ben Henderson admits, chalking up the discontent to the challenges of building mass transit through established areas.

The City will start the expropriation process on more than a dozen properties. Among them: the long established Whitemud Amusement Park, the owners of which don’t want to leave.

Strathearn resident Wayne Brown is also upset. He says the amount of land needed for the project has changed, and feels that the City hasn’t been communicating well with affected residents.

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“We haven’t got anything on paper. It’s just been a boondoggle, it’s just been a mess.”

Brown says the expropriation will take away his front yard and driveway, for which he wants to be compensated.

“Because, basically, I have to turn my front yard into my backyard,” he explains. “I’d just like to get a deal done.”

According to Brown, there has been no offer presented yet.

Henderson says he’s not privy to details of individual negotiations, but maintains that the City would like to be able to reach an agreement with affected residents and business owners, and make sure they are fairly compensated.

Despite facing a funding shortfall of more than half a billion dollars, Henderson says starting the expropriating process is an important step forward.

Brown, on the other hand, believes Council is getting a bit ahead of itself.

“They’re booking the honeymoon before they even asked the girl to marry. Think about it.”

The $1.8 billion project, which will see the LRT extended from downtown to Mill Woods, is short $515 million. The city hopes to get those funds from an Ottawa infrastructure fund and the province.

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A newly-elected Council is scheduled to meet on November 20 to discuss how to proceed on the project.

For more on future LRT expansion, visit the City of Edmonton’s website.

With files from Vinesh Pratap, Global News

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