The province will kick in the necessary funding to complete Edmonton's southeast LRT line, Alberta Premier Alison Redford announced this morning.
Redford told media she got the message loud and clear from the city and Edmonton MLA's that LRT is their first priority.
The city was looking for support from the province and federal government to the tune of $515 million towards the $1.8 billion total for line.
Today the province announced it has committed:
- up to $250 million under GreenTRIP over three years beginning in 2016-17 upon approval under the second call for GreenTRIP projects,
- up to $150 million in matching provincial funding if the federal government approves this project under the new Building Canada Fund beginning in 2016-17, and
- up to $200 million in an interest-free loan to be repaid by the city over 10 years.
"Our larger cities like Edmonton and our smaller towns alike are dealing with Alberta's enormous growth," Redford said. "We'll go on investing in families and communities because building is the only thing that we can do for the future; not building is not an option."
Mayor Don Iveson is pleased, but he wasn't exactly jumping up and down about the loan portion of the support.
"It's not quite $600 million," he said.
"It's sort of $600 million because it's $400 million of dollars that we didn't have yesterday plus $200 million in an interest free loan that we trust we're going to have the opportunity to apply for future green trip dollars, other provincial infrastructure dollars that are applicable to transit."
But he said he's glad the city can move ahead with the project and not lose a construction season, which would have added millions to the total cost of the project.
Iveson was bitterly disappointed after last week's provincial budget failed to add any new money towards LRT funding, despite the province borrowing hundreds of millions of dollars to fund road construction.
However, a day later Iveson said Horner had spoken with him about where money could be freed up in the budget for public transit projects.