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Feds make it offical: To commit up to $1B to LRT Stage 2

The federal government confirmed Monday it will commit up to $1 billion to the second stage of Ottawa’s light rail project.

Ottawa-Orleans MP Royal Galipeau, who made the pledge in a letter to Mayor Jim Watson last week, joined regional minister for Eastern Ontario Pierre Poilievre to officially announce the funding at the Bayview transit station, the northernmost stop of the existing O-Train Trillium Line.

“This investment is being delivered through the government’s new Public Transit Fund,” Mr. Galipeau said. “This fund is providing significant, permanent support for large-scale public transit projects that will address congestion and reduce travel time and provide broader economic and social benefits to Canada’s largest cities, including this one.”

The funding will represent up to one-third of the total costs of the second phase of the LRT project. Mr. Galipeau credited collaboration between officials at all three levels of government to get light rail to this point.

That sentiment was echoed by deputy mayor Mark Taylor, who was joined by fellow deputy mayor Bob Monette, transit commission chair Stephen Blais and transportation committee chair Keith Egli.

“Together, we are undertaking the biggest local infrastructure project since Colonel By oversaw the building of the canal,” Mr. Taylor said. “Today we are agreeing to continue this important partnership for several more years in order to continue the momentum we have started together.”

Citing the economic and environmental benefits of light rail, Mr. Taylor called it a project that will help “every family and every business in our community.”

Mr. Galipeau did not provide a definitive answer when asked if the funding was contingent on the Harper government winning the upcoming federal election.

“We received a letter on the 9th of July. We have responded on the 22nd,” he said. “We have invited city officials to work with Infrastructure Canada and with the Department of Finance, but the fiscal framework to do it was established in our last budget. Parliament approved that budget, so there we go.”

The project will extend light rail west to Bayshore, east to Place d’Orleans and south to Riverside South. It will add 30 kilometres of new track and 19 stations to the existing transit system. Construction is expected to begin in 2018, once construction is complete on phase one.

The second phase is expected to be fully functional by 2023.

Source: Ottawa Business Journal, Tom Pechloff, July 27, 2015