LRT should run to international airport: Mandel
Wants regional partners to pony up for it, too
Getting to the international airport or St. Albert could one day be as easy as hopping on the LRT.
Mayor Stephen Mandel today floated the idea of extending the line both north and south of the city – essentially linking St. Albert to the airport.
But he suggested it would require a significant cash injection from regional partners.
“Ultimately this needs to be a regional system – to reach the airport, for example – but this will not happen under our current structure where only Edmonton pays,” Mandel told a Chamber of Commerce luncheon in a speech that focused heavily on his so-called 90-day plan.
St. Albert Mayor Nolan Crouse said his city hasn’t taken an official position on the LRT yet, but it is being considered.
“Yes, we are interested in the concept,” Crouse told Sun Media. “We have not done much work on it politically and we do plan to.
“Administratively, they’ve begun discussions with the City of Edmonton.”
Crouse said money may be set aside as early as next year to begin the planning process.
Jim Rudolph, a spokesman for Edmonton Airports, said getting mass public transportation to the airport is critical, especially because more people are using the gateway. There is no bus service to the international airport.
“We’re willing to support those kinds of talks and seeing what can be done on a regional basis,” Rudolph said.
Mandel said within the next 90 days, council will get a look at preliminary plans to build a new LRT line from downtown to MacEwan College, the Royal Alexandra hospital and the main NAIT campus. It’s that same line that could one day extend to St. Albert.
Mandel told reporters that after the NAIT line, his vision is to expand the existing LRT line further northeast past Clareview, and later southeast into Mill Woods. The plan is to bring bus rapid transit to the west end before an LRT line.
As part of his 90-day vision, Mandel said the city will shortly hire a chief financial officer to advise officials on ways to use money “more effectively.”
As well, early in the new year, the report on a downtown arena will be completed and released, he said.
“Once we have both the Rexall renovation option and the new arena proposal in front of us, we can finally begin to have a real discussion about how a new project could work.”
Around that time a proposal for a new downtown bridge is also expected to come out.
Before Christmas, Mandel said council will get an updated budget on the southwest recreation centre, but warned construction costs have doubled to about $120 million. The city is now looking at alternative ways to fund the facility.
And next week, Mandel said council will get its first look at next year’s draft budget.
“Council hasn’t seen it yet, but we already understand that the pressure on our operating costs will continue this year,” he said.
Earlier this year, Mandel said the document could propose a tax hike of 10%.