Transit promises show cities important in election, Iveson says

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson is pleased the federal party leaders are promising to make investment in big city transit if elected on Oct. 19.
Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson and NDP Leader Tom Mulcair met Friday morning. (Peter Evans/CBC )

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson is welcoming promises for city transit funding from party leaders in the federal election campaign.

"There seems to be a bidding war for cities and for investment in mass transit, which is a real step forward for this country," Iveson said Friday.

His comments came shortly after NDP Leader Tom Mulcair made an infrastructure announcement while standing in front of an Edmonton Transit bus in Churchill Square.

Mulcair promised that an NDP government would invest $1.3 billion per year over 20 years for municipal transit, roads and bridges. Edmonton would get nearly $2 billion over that time period under the plan, he said.

Mulcair's announcement came two days after Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau announced in Edmonton his party would invest nearly $60 billion in infrastructure over 10 years.

A Liberal government would help Edmonton complete the Valley Line LRT extension, Trudeau said.

Iveson said prior to last year, the federal government was a "reluctant dance partner" in funding transit but that has improved.  

"Now we're seeing commitments from all parties, which indicates cities are in play, but it also indicates all parties see a future in investing in cities in this country."

Iveson said the proposals from the NDP and Liberals have fewer conditions than the Conservative plan, which requires Edmonton to build the Valley Line using a private-public partnership.

He said the numbers have to be examined further to determine which plan is better for Edmonton.

In July, Conservative cabinet minister and Calgary MP Jason Kenney announced $1.53 billion in federal funding for Calgary's Green Trip public transit project.

Edmonton hasn't received a similar commitment. When asked about that during his appearance in Edmonton, Mulcair said he understood why Edmontonians might be frustrated by that.

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