With a national portfolio under my watch, it’s been interesting to find continuity between my previous life as a City Councillor and my current work as Minister of Infrastructure and Communities. Most often I experience this in meetings with municipal stakeholders where my background allows me to better understand where they are coming from and how their processes work. But sometimes, I have the opportunity to work on a project from the federal perspective that I know well from my years at Edmonton City Hall.
This past week was one of the times. As a City Councilor, I was closely involved and worked hard with my colleagues on the conception, design and implementation phases of The Valley Line expansion to our LRT system. Both then and now, public transit is something I am very passionate about. Every day, millions of Canadians rely on affordable, efficient public transportation to get to their jobs, schools, community centres and – at the end of the day – to get home. The expanded LRT will not only deliver direct economic benefits by creating jobs and opening opportunities to citizens, it will also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. More riders on our LRT mean fewer cars on our roads.
Improving our country’s public transit systems is critically important to the well-being of our country. While we have an ambitious plan to invest an additional $20B over 10 years in public transit across Canada, I have heard in countless meetings and consultations that we need to do more to look after our existing systems in the short term. That is why the recent budget invests $3.4B in a Public Transit Fund to improve and repair transit infrastructure. This new fund, once agreements are signed with provinces and territories, will be allocated based on ridership. Our plan for the future of public transit in Edmonton and across Canada is an ambitious one and it needs to be built on a solid foundation. Rehabilitating our transit systems will achieve this, allowing for communities across Canada to remain among the best places in the world to live, work and raise a family.