Gatineau LRT to get federal funding, minister pledges

Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna says the federal government will help pay for light rail between downtown Hull and Aylmer in Gatineau, Que.

Province already committed to covering 60% of estimated $2.1B project

Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna on Nov. 21, the day after she was sworn into her new cabinet post. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)

Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna says the federal government will help pay for light rail between downtown Hull and Aylmer in Gatineau, Que.

Gatineau hopes to have the $2.1 billion, 26-kilometre LRT system up and running by the end of the next decade, having already received a commitment from Premier François Legault to fund 60 per cent of the project, or about $1.26 billion.

The city has said it would like the federal and provincial government to cover most of the bill.

McKenna told Radio-Canada's Les Matins d'ici radio show Thursday that strengthening the transit links between Ottawa and Gatineau makes sense because so many people cross the Ottawa River for work.

The Liberals have promised to increase public transit funding by $3 billion a year, but will fund only zero-emission vehicles after 2023.

    McKenna, MP for Ottawa Centre, a riding that could benefit directly from Gatineau's LRT project, said she's waiting for a formal request for funding. She did not specify how much the federal government might contribute.

    Gatineau Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin said the project is far enough along to begin discussing funding.

    McKenna also said in the French interview she wants a sixth bridge over the river between the two cities, but would wait for the National Capital Commission to finish studying the options.

    Next steps

    According to survey results released earlier this month by the Société de transport de l'Outaouais (STO), more than 75 per cent of 668 respondents are in favour of a fully electric light rail network in Gatineau.

    Asked to pick from a few options, 47 per cent favoured above-ground trains between downtown Hull and the intersection of chemin Eardley and boulevard des Allumetières in Aylmer.

    The City of Gatineau's first proposal for a new light rail system. (City of Gatineau)

    Few respondents opted to continue with a bus-only transit system.

    The STO said it will pick an option, "refine" it, embark on further public consultations and come up with a final plan some time next year.

    With files from Radio-Canada's Les Matins d'ici


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