Alberta in line for $3.3B in federal infrastructure funding

Alberta communities will receive nearly $3.4 billion in federal funding over the next decade for public transit, green infrastructure and other projects, Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi announced Tuesday in Edmonton.

Edmonton, Calgary to share $2B in transit funding, Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi says

Federal Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi, left, flanked by Edmonton Centre MP Randy Boissonnault at a funding announcement in Edmonton on Tuesday. (CBC)

Alberta communities will receive $3.3 billion in federal funding over the next decade for public transit, green infrastructure and other projects, Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi announced Tuesday in Edmonton.

The money will be provided under a new bilateral agreement between the federal and Alberta governments. Ottawa is signing similar infrastructure agreements with all other provinces and territories, providing more than $33 billion in total between this year and 2028.

"In Alberta's big cities, public transportation has, and continues to be, a top priority," said Sohi, a former bus driver and Edmonton city councillor.

"It brings me great joy to announce that the City of Edmonton will receive over $860 million in federal funding to improve transit in our community. This is on top of the $500 million that Edmonton is slated to receive under the gas-tax funding."

The announcement was made at Edmonton Transit's Centennial garage against a backdrop of new city buses.

The federal funding for Alberta breaks down like this:

  • $2.1 billion for new urban transit networks and service extensions. Edmonton will be allocated up to $878 million. Calgary will be able to claim a maximum of nearly $1.1 billion. Other recipients of transit funding will be announced at a later date.
  • $1 billion for green infrastructure to support greenhouse-gas emission reductions, adapt to climate change, mitigate climate-related disasters and provide clean air/safe drinking water for communities.
  • $141 million for community, culture and recreation infrastructure.
  • $160 million for projects that improve quality of life in rural and northern communities.

"These four fundings really are a perfect fit with the government of Alberta's ongoing capital plan," said provincial Infrastructure Minister Sandra Jansen, who signed the agreement on behalf of the Alberta government.

Transportation Minister Brian Mason said the funding "will go a long way toward improving the quality of life for Edmontonians and Albertans, and Canadians."

'Visionary commitments'

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson said Canada's big-city mayors have called for years for long-term federal funding commitments for infrastructure and transit and other areas such as affordable housing.

"Cities are where it all comes together, where the economic future of our province and the country will be forged," Iveson said. "So these visionary commitments are a phenomenal signal of confidence for mayors and for city-builders across this country."

With the transit funding, "big cities across the country will now have the opportunity to plan and move ahead with significant transit projects in the coming years."

Iveson said the federal government has again confirmed it is prepared to fund up to 40 per cent for transit projects, a departure from the previous three-way split between municipal, provincial and federal governments.

The city is still negotiating to have the province increase its share of major transit projects to 40 per cent, leaving the city to pay for 20 per cent. To date, the province has not agreed to pay more than 33 per cent, he said.

"We continue to argue that something like a 40-40-20 [split] would be fair and equitable given our fiscal capacity, and so that hasn't been ruled out," Iveson said. "We continue to have positive conversations with them, and before we lock down a final funding arrangement for West LRT and beyond, we'll try to get clarity on that."

'Committed' to pipeline expansion

Also Tuesday, Sohi said the federal government remains committed to seeing the controversial Trans Mountain expansion project get built. The $7.4-billion project would more than double the capacity of an oil pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby. It won federal approval in 2016 but is facing opposition in British Columbia.

"Our government firmly stands behind the energy sector as a source of well-paying middle class jobs for Canadians," Sohi said.

"We understand the importance of getting provinces' resources to the international market. In fact, doing so has been a top priority for us. That's why we approved the Enbridge Line 3 that's currently underway. And that's why we approved the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, and we are committed to getting it built.

"This project is important not just to Alberta but to all of Canada, and we are unwavering in our commitment to see it move forward."