Edmonton is continually developing and quickly becoming a major urban centre. With tens of thousands of people moving to the Capital Region each year, the issue of ensuring access to quick and efficient transportation for all our citizens to move around the city is becoming a more important issue each year. To rely solely on our roadway system designed primarily for private automobile use would place too great of a burden on the current roadway network, resulting in significantly greater levels of congestion, pollution and wear and tear on the infrastructure.
The solution to an increasing population and the associated transportation demands with an already busy roadway system is by developing a transit system that allows easy and efficient access to all. Edmonton was one of the first cities to introduce the use of Light Rail Transit (LRT) however, after the initial construction, little to no expansion happened for several decades until the south line expansion to Century Park opened in 2010. This expansion revolutionized transit opportunities for residents in the Southside providing tens of thousands of citizens the option of taking the LRT to work, or a more direct bus route due to a reorganization of existing transit resources. This has resulted in thousands of cars being taken out of the daily commuter equation and the associated congestion, thus producing benefit even to citizens who are not riding the LRT.
The NAIT LRT expansion is scheduled to open by the end of 2014, and the continuation of this expansion to the Northwest of Edmonton is designed to have this same revolutionary impact for Ward 3 and the rest of Northwest Edmonton. On May 8, 2013, City Council approved the Northwest LRT concept plan, which was developed with input from the public and defines where the LRT will run along the approved route and where LRT stations will be located.
As the project moves from the Concept Plan to the Design Stage, I will work to ensure that the concerns of Ward 3 citizens are accounted for and that the project moves forward in an effective fashion. This means I will encourage a design that incorporates as little impact to current infrastructure as possible, building on the strengths and weaknesses experienced through the recent expansions to the South and NAIT. The Northwest LRT expansion is one of, if not the most exciting city-wide infrastructure projects that will directly impact Ward 3 and it is something I will advocate for as a priority to advance as quickly as possible. I see exceptional potential for the positive impact that will be experienced by the residents in Ward 3 thanks to this project. There will be growing pains, this is a reality of all major infrastructure projects, but we must look beyond this, and focus on the transportation opportunity that will soon become a reality.