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New Year’s funding?

Ottawa residents can expect to learn whether or not there will be money for the city’s rapid transit plan by the end of January.

Ottawa residents can expect to learn whether or not there will be money for the city’s rapid transit plan by the end of January.

By a vote of 7-1, the city’s transit committee approved the route for the $2.1-billion first portion of the rapid transit network — including the locations for the downtown transit tunnel stations — yesterday.

The University of Ottawa, the Preston BIA and the Downtown Coalition all urged the committee to approve the proposed 12.5-kilometre electric light rail route, which runs from Tunney’s Pasture to Blair Station through a 3.2-kilometre downtown tunnel.

If approved by city council Jan. 13, funding announcements from the federal and provincial governments are expected to follow shortly after, according to the timeline by city staff.

“We built our critical path around a funding announcement at the end of January,” said deputy city manager Nancy Schepers.

Once the announcement is made, an expedited environmental assessment would begin. That would have to be signed off by Ontario’s environment minister before the end of May. The tunnel is not expected to be completed until 2016.

A funding announcement in January is not a hard deadline, said Schepers. If it doesn’t come by then, council will have to start considering a revised timeline.

But at some point, the taxpayers of Ottawa “deserve an answer from the federal and provincial governments,” said transit committee chairman Alex Cullen.

 
 
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