Fund Yellowhead or risk losing federal funding, Don Iveson urges premier

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson is suggesting provincial indecision is jeopardizing Edmonton’s chances of tapping into federal funding to upgrade Yellowhead Trail.

Rachel Notley says Yellowhead upgrade not on list of provincial priorities

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson wants to access federal funding to turn Yellowhead Trail into a thoroughfare. (CBC)

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson is suggesting the provincial government's inability to commit to upgrading Yellowhead Trail is jeopardizing Edmonton's chances of tapping into federal funding.

The city wants money from the Building Canada Fund to turn a 25-kilometre section of the Yellowhead into a freeway without the existing traffic lights and intersections that slow down the flow of traffic.

The project would take 10 years at an estimated cost of $1 billion. The cost would be shared equally by the city, the province and the federal government.

Iveson said the city is prepared to fund its portion, but the province needs to step up before the fund is allocated to other projects.

"If we're not able to come to a deal, that money is going to go to B.C. or it's going to go to Quebec or it's going to go somewhere other than the city of Edmonton and likely the province of Alberta.

"The federal government has lots of other priorities," Iveson said. "Lots of other asks with provinces who are prepared to take advantage of those opportunities and so I really want to make sure that our province has whatever information they need ... to be able to come to a decision on the Yellowhead."

Premier Rachel Notley isn't making promises on funding the Yellowhead project but she hasn't ruled it out. (CBC)

Asked about the Yellowhead following her address to Iveson and other delegates at Alberta Urban Municipalities Association convention, Premier Rachel Notley said the project isn't on the province's list of capital priorities.

But she suggested it hasn't been ruled out.

"We are currently looking at what strategies we have at our disposal to try to make that project go forward and our minister of transportation is doing a lot of work on it and we're hopeful that we'll come up with some solutions soon," Notley said.

Iveson said he understands the province is facing a funding crunch because of low oil prices. But he notes Notley and her government made infrastructure funding one of their priorities for stimulating and diversifying the economy after getting that advice from former Bank of Canada governor David Dodge. 

Now that the Anthony Henday Drive ring road is complete, the construction industry is looking for a new road project, Iveson said.