Word that the province is looking at building a hospital in south Edmonton has members of city council thinking with some urgency that LRT expansion from Century Park Station is needed now more than ever.
The two top priorities on the public transit infrastructure fund (PTIF) are the Valley Line expansion to the west and Lewis Estates, as well as the Metro Line expansion into Blatchford.
Coun. Bryan Anderson said he was first approached by the provincial government 15 years ago about a south Edmonton campus for MacEwan University, which is now off the table, and for an auxiliary hospital, both at 127 Street south of the Anthony Henday. Anderson sees the need for LRT to happen sooner than later.
“If that hospital is going to be located at that location the provincial government is certainly going to have to decide whether LRT access to that new hospital is at least as important as letting people get to West Edmonton Mall.”
“No decisions have been made on the location for a new Edmonton hospital,” Laura Ehrkamp, the press secretary to Health Minister and Deputy Premier Sarah Hoffman wrote in an email to iNews880. “Given the need for a new hospital in Edmonton, this is excellent news that we are moving ahead. More details will be available in terms of timeline, location, etc.”
The administration for the city is already working on providing an answer to city council. A letter from Mayor Don Iveson to federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau pegs the cost of the south LRT extension at $627 million.
“We do have preliminary engineering done but it was put on the shelf a little while ago, so part of the work that we’ll be doing will be updating that study to confirm costs,” Adam Laughlin the deputy city manager for infrastructure said. “This is not one of council’s top two priorities but, in the event that funding is available, we’re prepared to go.”
The city also has to assemble land in the area for a park’n’ride, which is a priority, and also a request in the PTIF submission to Ottawa and the province. A decision on that needs to be in place by 2018 to qualify for funding. There is also an overlap with the lease expiring at Century Park for the park’n’ride there.
Coun. Michael Walters feels a council inquiry would be a good way to get this on the table. He said council needs to look at the issue again due to an increase of development permits in the south, and the incoming hospital.
“We need to look at just the number of development permits that are being issued and the growth in south Edmonton,” Walters said. “You’re talking about the hospital and the other economic development that we’ll see there, but the sure growth today is enormous and not keeping up with infrastructure demand we have to prioritize it.”