Municipalities vie for new public transit money
The province's $2-billion announcement for public transit this week is pitting communities in the Calgary area against each other as they seek funding for projects.
Truper McBride, the mayor of Cochrane, envisions a shuttle train, similar to the GO system in the Toronto area, that can connect commuters from Airdrie, Cochrane, Okotoks and High River to downtown Calgary.
"Part of the link would be installing heavy rail transit systems to run from the outlying communities into the city," he said Wednesday.
New rail lines would be put in next to existing Canadian Pacific Railway tracks. The trains would transport commuters at speeds of up to 100 kilometres an hour.
Rick Butler of the Calgary Regional Partnership, which is made up of 19 municipalities, said it plans to go ahead with a proposal for a commuter train service this fall.
"There's a dilemma, I think, amongst experts. Chicken and egg. Do we build the transit and then they will come, or do we wait until they come and then build the transit?" he said.
But it appears the City of Calgary — despite being a member of the partnership — will also make its own bid. Mayor Dave Bronconnier said he prefers to win funding to extend existing LRT lines as well as to build new ones in his city.
"I understand he has to look after his city but he's also aware that the outlying communities, which hold a significant portion of the population, they use his roads and he doesn't want us on his roads because we don't pay his taxes for those roads," said McBride.
The province announced on Tuesday that it's setting aside $2 billion for new public transit projects across the province.
Premier Ed Stelmach is waiting to see all proposals: "We're not going to release any monies to any partner without seeing the general overall goal and that is to expand LRT well beyond the one municipality. It's to reach out to others so we can have a regional transit system in place."