If federal Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi knows what Edmonton’s new share of LRT cash is supposed to be, he’s not saying.
Sohi gave a business audience a glimpse of the potential Thursday, the first day after the federal budget.
“Our initial commitment was to invest $20 billion in public transit,” Sohi told reporters following his speech to an audience of 250. “Sixty billion of new money in the new infrastructure. We have increased that commitment to $80 billion, so we are investing more in public transit under budget 2017.”
That’s part of an overall infrastructure budget that has increased $81 billion over 11 years to $180 billion.
The new money is added on to what was announced in last year’s budget. It is known that there’s a mathematical formula based on 70 per cent ridership, and 30 per cent population. Yet all Sohi would say about Edmonton being in line for more today, than a week ago is, we will get “our fair share.”
“When you look at the close to $140 million Edmonton got in phase one, which was only two year funding, so there’ll be significant funding for Edmonton.”
Sohi confirmed it’s more than $500 million.
A letter from Mayor Don Iveson to Finance Minister Bill Morneau last week spelled out transit priorities. Included in the list – after the top two requests for LRT cash to the west end on the Valley Line and to Blatchford on the Metro Line – is $627 million for the south Capital Line. That’s significant because of talk last week on a new hospital for south Edmonton at 127 Street between the Anthony Henday and Ellerslie road.
Sohi would only say to that request that the local city councils can set their spending priorities.
Provincial money is also needed to match federal cash, something Premier Rachel Notley confirmed in her post-budget news conference Wednesday.
Sohi’s words, as vague as they are at this point, brings confidence to Edmonton’s business interests.
“I must admit I took heart from that as well,” said Edmonton Chamber of Commerce CEO Janet Riopel. “The specifics around that were not released, but we sure want to hear that here in Edmonton.”
Asked when we’ll know more about phase two spending on public transit, Sohi said, “soon.”
LISTEN: Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi joins Ryan Jespersen to talk infrastructure dollars in the 2017 budget