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Partnership to receive millions for transit

Airdrie will receive part of the $800 million the Province recently announced for transit funding in the Calgary area, although it is not known exactly how much.

Airdrie will receive part of the $800 million the Province recently announced for transit funding in the Calgary area, although it is not known exactly how much.

“I’m really happy this was finally announced,” said Calgary Regional Partnership Chair Linda Bruce. “I’m glad to see this money will be coming to our region over time.”

Bruce estimated Airdrie and the area will receive about $123 million over the next three to five years.

On June 22, Transportation Minister Luke Ouellette confirmed the breakdown of the Province’s $2-billion “Green Trip” program, nearly two years after the Stelmach government’s initial announcement.

Although the deficit-mired Province has only budgeted for a fraction of that transit money in its current three-year spending plan, Ouellette pledged the Progressive Conservative government will provide cash as transit systems need it.

“This is a pay-on-progress program,” he said. “Most things that you do, bills won’t be coming due until down the road a ways. And that’s when we’ll be paying the money out.”

Bruce said the available funds total about $70 million, enough to get the first phases of the regional transit plan underway.

“This will cover initial costs and lay the groundwork for the rail to Airdrie, which is probably about 10 or 20 years down the road,” said Bruce.

Airdrie, Cochrane, Calgary and others in the CRP submitted a $153-million, three-year proposal to the minister last month, before he began taking project applications. It pitched commuter-bus routes to Cochrane, High River, Okotoks, Strathmore and Chestermere, in addition to bolstering the forthcoming Airdrie connector.

“We were the first community to launch the regional plan with our Airdrie/Calgary ICE commuter bus to be launched in September,” said Bruce. “We are the trailblazers and we are glad the Province is getting on board. We’ve been ready for a while and now the Province is ready to fund it.”

The CRP suggested that municipal governments be asked to pony up only 20 per cent of the purchasing and construction costs for the transit expansions. Ouellette told them they’ll need to cover one-third of the costs under Green Trip.

Bruce said she anticipated every community will have to come up with a portion of the funding, but is not worried as it will be offset by federal money.

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