Liberal loss could leave LRT money in limbo, Wynne warns

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne warned Monday that in the event of a Liberal loss in the upcoming provincial election, funding for Ottawa's light rail project can't be guaranteed.

Premier Kathleen Wynne casts doubt on provincial funding for Phase 2, but Mayor Jim Watson unconcerned

Premier Kathleen Wynne cast doubt on the provincial money pledged for Ottawa's LRT, warning things could change pending the outcome of the June 7 election. (Leah Hansen/CBC)

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne warned Monday that in the event of a Liberal loss in the upcoming provincial election, funding for Ottawa's light rail project can't be guaranteed.

The Wynne government pledged $1 billion for the construction of the second phase of Ottawa's LRT project last year.

But during an event Monday morning at Louis Riel Secondary School, Wynne said the June 7 election leaves things uncertain.

"People always say, can you make sure this doesn't change, just in case you don't get elected?" she said. "My answer always has to be, no. We cannot guarantee what another government would do."

The federal government also pledged up to $1.09 billion to Phase 2, which will extend both the Confederation Line and the Trillium Line, with the city to cover the remaining $1 billion.

The provincial government's promise included covering half the cost of extending rail service to the Ottawa airport, and from Place d'Orléans to Trim Road, according to a City of Ottawa news release.

'Full steam ahead'

Despite the possibility of new provincial government, Mayor Jim Watson said he isn't worried about the money.

"I met with [Ontario PC Leader] Doug Ford, he said he's not going to change our plans or cut back, and Andrea Horwath of the NDP supports it," he said. "They know it's the right thing to do, and we're going full steam ahead with Phase 2."

Phase 1 of Ottawa's Confederation Line is expected to be completed in November of this year, with completion of Phase 2 expected by 2022-2023. (Mathieu Fleury/Twitter)

Ford has so far been tight-lipped about a province-wide plan for transit funding. In Hamilton however, he said he would uphold a $1.3-billion funding promise, an LRT pledge first made by the Liberal government.

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath's platform includes a pledge to cover up to 50 per cent of operating costs for municipal transit.

Construction on Phase 1 of Ottawa's Confederation Line is currently underway. The line is expected to be completed by November of this year, with trains travelling between Tunney's Pasture and Blair stations.

Stage 2 will extend the line in both directions, between Moodie and Trim stations, with completion set for 2022-2023.

The Trillium Line will also be extended and is expected to include a link to the airport by 2021.