June 6th’s Executive Committee left me dumbfounded. I have been pushing to get the LRT extended north, and a few months ago it seemed like we were ready to begin planning this exciting next phase. The plan for the LRT has been to extend it west and then north west once the valley line was complete. After last Tuesday, it seems like that plan may be altered.
The long-term plan to extend the LRT from NAIT to Blatchford, and then on to Grand Trunk, Griesbach, and Castle Downs communities would benefit all of north Edmonton. The north central and west side does not have the LRT.
There was the suggestion that because the province has plans to build a new hospital on the south side, on Ellerslie Road, that the LRT extension south should be the next phase of construction, before the northward line. This motion left me aghast, and is not something that I will agree to. Areas without the LRT need to be considered first.
At City Council on June 13, my colleague Bev Esslinger and I with the help of Mayor Iveson and administration brought a notice of motion that will be put forward at the next council meeting. The motion is that administration includes a study on a scenario where an express bus service would run from Blatchford on a bridge over the Yellowhead and CN Calder Rail Yard to provide express service in the interim before the LRT is developed. The bridge would be future-proofed with the purpose of upgrading it for a rail for the LRT. Including this study would provide more information, and bring rapid transit to the north while the LRT is in the planning and building stages. This report is to come back to committee in March 2018. My hope is that this will bring faster, more efficient transit options to the north quickly while the LRT is unavailable.
Nothing has been decided, yet. This discussion still has to go to council. But I will fight as hard as I can to make sure that the north side gets the LRT soon. This has been one of my priorities throughout my time in council, and it continues to be a top priority for me. I will not let the LRT construction into the north be pushed back without a fight. The north side has been without the LRT for too long, and it is time that is rectified.