Alberta prepared to match federal cash for transit systems hurt by COVID-19

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The City of Edmonton is closer to getting financial support from the provincial and federal governments after transit revenue was decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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In a statement Friday, Alberta Transportation Minister Rajan Sawhney said the province is offering $79.5 million for transit systems across Alberta hurt financially during the pandemic. That money is a requirement for the province to get matching funds from Ottawa announced last month.

“Barring any questions from the federal government on our approach, we will be moving quickly to advance grant agreements with municipalities and get checks out the door,” the minister said, adding that public transit is a critical component to economic recovery.

Asked for details about how much of a grant had been earmarked for Edmonton, Sawhney’s press secretary Rob Williams said the deal was still being finalized and details would be shared “in the weeks ahead.”

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The City of Edmonton has asked for a total of $81.6 million over two years to make up the shortfall in transit revenue the city experienced as a result of the pandemic.

At an unrelated event Friday, Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said he believed the city’s portion of the money would be “significant” and that he is grateful for the efforts by both levels of government to make it possible.

“I am very pleased that the province is stepping up to match the federal funding,” he said.

“That will give us a lot of support that is necessary to continue to run our public transit system and we will be the first municipality to fully recover from the pandemic by the end of 2023 or early 2024.”

As part of its announcement last month, the federal government said that along with requiring provinces to match the money, they needed to work with cities to quickly increase the supply of housing.

Specific details about that requirement have not been made public.

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