Edmonton council nixes proposal for 40th Avenue LRT station
““You’ve got this billion-dollar LRT and it’s not relevant to all the neighbourhoods it cuts right through.” – Coun. Iveson
“I’m a bit appalled that we would be looking at $22 million for something that’s only been open a couple of years,” said Coun. Jane Batty, saying she would like to see the train run to all four corners of the city first. “I just think we have other fish we should be frying for LRT lines.”
Earlier today, a proposal by Councillor Iveson to add an LRT station at 40th avenue was flattened on the track by the Transportation Committee of City Council.
So much of Edmonton’s future LRT expansion will be retrofitted through existing neighbourhoods, roads and right-of-ways. It’s in that vein that today’s decision by the committee and the quotes above, I believe merit the attention of Community Leagues, advocates, and the folks who will be looking to make use of light-rail in their communities on day.
A fears years ago, I had the opportunity to chat in depth with a member of a University-area Community League who was actively involved in south-side LRT expansion. The debate over the West LRT line was in full swing, and having recently taken over a the civics director for a west-end league, I was looking for advice from someone who had looking at the topic as a community advocate for some time. The conversation was focused on one topic, taking a multi-billion dollar transit investement and getting it right for the communities affected. That the focus for decision makers needed to be on serving the communities expansion transits. Decisions such as forgoing consideration of additional stops in redeveloping mature neighbourhoods for a tunnel-vision on 20 minute ride-times from the end to downtown, was largely missing the forest for the trees.
We see the contrast today, with the quotes above, between detail and completion. Between working at the most local of levels to serve communities, and focusing in on the end of the line and ribbon cutting day.
No, not every community can get what it wants, but nor in a changing and growing city, can we really consider a LRT line complete just because it’s moving riders. A demand for a station, a demand for service, and the consideration of potential ridership and local transit-related redevelopment should carry the same weight whether the line is a few years old, or 30 years-old. The same goes for mature and inner city communities looking to increase service of proposed and developing LRT lines in their communities. They shouldn’t be placed in a situation where their desires and concerns are quickly dismissed and/or outweighed by a focus on suburban ride times or focusing on the construction of one LRT at the expense of the functionality of another. That may help to hurry along the development of future LRT routes, but for an investment of this size, do we want to just build it, or build it darn well for our communities and our city?