Need more than talk from Hudak

A view of the entrance to the downtown Ottawa LRT tunnel near Albert and Brickhill streets. (TONY...

A view of the entrance to the downtown Ottawa LRT tunnel near Albert and Brickhill streets. (TONY CALDWELL/QMI Agency)

Megan Gillis, Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 12:37 AM ET

Show me the money.

Mayor Jim Watson says Tory Leader Tim Hudak's letter signaling a switch to supporting the second phase of the LRT project is good news for Ottawa but there's no commitment to ante up a third of the cost and it's not clear where the cash would come from.

"He made a commitment with specific dollars to Toronto for $2 billion a year," Watson said Sunday.

"In that letter, there was no financial commitment to the City of Ottawa but there was to the City of Toronto. I'd like to ensure that he is in sync with us and our need to get shovels in the ground in 2018 with their $975 million contribution.

"What we're looking for is fairness."

The first phase of the LRT project, running from Tunney's Pasture to Blair Rd. and slated to open in 2018, is currently under construction with 25% of the downtown tunnel now complete, Watson said.

The city will be making a formal funding application from the province and feds for the $3 billion next step -- extensions east to Orleans, west to Bayshore and Algonquin College and south to Riverside South -- in 2015 or early 2016.

Premier Kathleen Wynne reiterated during a stop in Orleans last week that her government, if re-elected June 12, would make funding Phase 2 a priority, paid for from a $14 billion fund for transportation outside the GTA.

Hudak had said that there would be no funding available for the second phase of the LRT but appeared to backtrack in a letter to Watson and council Saturday, saying that when more people are working and the books are balanced by 2016, "we will have the capacity to further invest in key transportation priorities like Phase 2 of the LRT.

"That's how we'll ensure Ottawa receives its fair share," he wrote.

Under the Liberals, the Hwy. 417/174 split "remains a traffic backlog despite 11 years of Liberal promises" while there are "safety concerns" on Hwy. 174, Hudak wrote.

The Tories would fix the split by finishing the road-widening project through to completion and in his first 100 days in office would start negotiations to "upload" Hwy. 174.

"On the one hand he's saying all of these projects are conditional on balancing the books, but he's willing to do this upload within 100 days - I really don't understand how this is going to work," Watson said.

Twitter: @ottawasun_megan


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