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Understanding the need for LRT in St. Albert

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  |  Posted: Saturday, Feb 15, 2014 06:00 am

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First, let me start by saying that this is not meant to provide a personal position on the proposal of an LRT system in St. Albert. Rather, I am trying to understand the thought process, next steps and “end game” of city council in relation to an LRT network in our fine city.

As highlighted by Councillor Brodhead at the Feb. 3 council meeting, the LRT issue has been beaten to death and it is time to move on with the functional alignment study. I 100 per cent agree – it has been beaten to death, the funds have been allocated, the issue has been voted upon – multiple times. Get the study done.

Then what? Some answered tweets from city councillors basically outlined that there is no next step. There are no further funds to be directed to the LRT project at this time.

So I ask, what value does the functional study provide us with today and what value will this study provide us with in 30 years when an LRT system might be a real possibility? With the ever changing face of St. Albert Trail, I cannot possibly see how the land use study will be accurate in even five years time. So, again, how will spending this $500,000 today benefit LRT planning in the future as it is highly likely this exercise will need to be repeated again prior to a project ever starting.

To ask the questions another way – what is the scope and focus of this study and what information does planning and development hope to extract from it?

Further, Edmonton has no intention of a northwest terminal near St. Albert anytime soon. This would be an absolute pre-requisite for an LRT line in St. Albert as having a line solely for the purpose of north-south travel intra-St. Albert is ludicrous at best – a point which even LRT supporters would agree with. I can’t help but wonder if the $500,000 from the LRT reserve fund would have been better served to work on an intermunicipal study between Edmonton and St. Albert to determine if there is even a need for Edmonton to expand the rail network to the border of St. Albert. If that study failed to provide an economic incentive to expand the rail network north-westerly, this contentious issue could be put to rest for a few decades.

Finally, without any financial commitment from other levels of government, how is this proposal going to benefit St. Albert economically?

I would love to hear some further details from council on this issue. More importantly, what details can be provided to help us citizens get on board with this project? To me, it feels as if the proverbial train has been put before the tracks.

Dana Popadynetz, St. Albert


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