Tensions ran high at city hall yesterday, as the transportation and public works committee begrudgingly agreed to postpone a public hearing on potential LRT expansion to the city’s west end.
The committee received the request after eight opposing west-end community groups challenged the date of the original hearing, set for May 20.
Most council members were caught off-guard by the last-minute extension request, the source of which was a heated topic of discussion at yesterday’s committee meeting.
At one point, Mayor Stephen Mandel adamantly demanded an apology from Coun. Linda Sloan who both opposed the request and suggested its timing was highly suspicious.
“There are accusations made that this was somehow perpetrated by myself. I knew nothing about it whatsoever,” Mandel exclaimed, repeatedly demanding an apology.
Also during the debate, city transportation manager Bob Boutilier said that his recommendation the route be constructed along 87th Avenue will stand.
Mandel is in strong opposition of the route, backing a route along Stony Plain Road.
“I don’t support 87th Avenue, so I’ve let them know they need to do their homework to be ready to deal with some councillors who are adamantly set in their ways of having it run on 87th, whether it’s good or bad,” he said, in response to west-end residents in opposition of the proposed line.
Mandel agreed that the issue is highly emotional, especially since the option of choosing a route that runs through a residential neighbourhood has some in the area in strong opposition.
“The reality is that it’s a big decision,” Mandel said. “Once a decision has been made to what route is going to be taken, then all planning goes from there. Councillors need to know how the community feels and that means they have an opportunity to express their opinions.”