The city’s proposed LRT line connecting Mill Woods to downtown has received a major funding boost, with the federal government pledging up to $250 million from the P3 Canada Fund.
The amount falls short of the $400 million the city was hoping to receive from the fund, which is set up to pay for infrastructure projects in partnership with other government and private companies.
"This was a huge step, because without this step we don’t go to step two," said Mayor Stephen Mandel.
Mandel estimates that the city has lined up about $1 billion of the line's $1.8 billion estimated cost.
He said he’s also confident that another $300 million will come from the province, although the city has not yet applied for the money.
"We believe we covered all the bases. At the end of the day, this is a project that will be built, and be successful, based on the team we put together."
However, some are not optimistic about building the line using a public-private partnership.
Bill Moore-Kilgannon, executive-director of Public Interest Alberta, worried that a P3 deal will mean higher costs for the project in the long run.
"The city could borrow the money much cheaper than a private organization can," he said.
Moore-Kilgannon said while he supports the LRT expansion, he’s disappointed that the money came with the condition of the project being a P3.
He worries the partnership might cause problems when it comes to the maintenance and operation of the LRT line. "If there's a maintenance problem who do you call? Not City Hall. Not Edmonton Transit. But you have to call this corporation."
The city aims to start construction on the southeast line by late 2014 or early 2015, with construction expected to be completed in 2017.