Edmonton

LRT to Edmonton's southwest should be be a top priority, say councillors

Two councillors representing the southwest corner of Edmonton say extending the LRT to that part of the city needs to be a top priority, especially with the possibility of a new hospital being built there

'What we're dealing with here is a part of town that is exploding in growth'

A man is in critical condition after he reportedly kicked an LRT maintenance train Wednesday night. (CBC)

Two councillors representing the southwest corner of Edmonton say extending the LRT to that part of the city needs to be a top priority.

Last week's announcement of a new hospital for Edmonton in the provincial budget means this needs to be revisited, said Coun. Michael Walters on Monday.
"We have to be very realistic about the growth that we're facing there, and the infrastructure challenges we're facing there," Coun. Michael Walters said Monday. (CBC)

"What we're dealing with here is a part of town that is exploding in growth," Walters said. "The proximity to the airport, people wanting to live close to the university on the south side — I think all that adds up to just enormous demand."

Ellerslie Road and 127th Street is a logical location for the new hospital since the province already owns a chunk of land there, added Walters.

"We have to be very realistic about the growth that we're facing there, and the infrastructure challenges we're facing there," he said.

The proposal is to expand the LRT south fom Century Park to Ellerslie Road at a cost of $627 million.

City council has approved funding for design work on the project, but hasn't given it priority over other LRT expansion projects that are also on the books.

Whoever ends up elected to wards nine and 10 in October's municipal election will have to work hard to convince all of city council to move the project to the top of the list, said Coun. Bryan Anderson.

After 19 years on council, Anderson announced Monday he will not be seeking re-election.

But before he leaves, Anderson said he is considering asking city staff for a report on the southern LRT expansion as a way to put it on the table for debate by the next council.
A map of the LRT expansion from Century Park south to Ellerslie Road. (City of Edmonton)

"I am putting together a list of things that I want to accomplish between now and the meeting break on the third Monday in September," he said.

If a new hospital ends up in the city's southwest, the province is going to have to step up with money for the transportation infrastructure, Anderson added.

In the past, when dealing with major construction projects, the cost has been split fairly evenly between the city, provincial government, and federal government.

In a letter to the federal finance minister in advance of the release of the federal budget on Wednesday, Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson said he wants the city's contribution on future LRT projects reduced to 10 per cent.

Iveson said Edmonton ends up paying for ongoing maintenance on LRT projects, so reducing the city's upfront costs would make for a more equitable arrangement.