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Toronto's light rail funding coup a good sign for Ottawa

The provincial government has come through with funding for light railin Toronto, and local politicians are interpreting the announcement asa positive sign for things to come for Ottawa.

The provincial government has come through with funding for light rail in Toronto, and local politicians are interpreting the announcement as a positive sign for things to come for Ottawa.

On Wednesday, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and Toronto Mayor David Miller announced $9 billion worth of public transit projects, including a $4.6-billion, 31-kmilometre rail line to the Pearson International Airport.

The announcement should free up provincial politicians to turn their attention to the premier's hometown, said Mayor Larry O'Brien.

Ottawa is looking for the federal and provincial governments to each pay a third of a $1.4 billion first phase of a rapid transit network that would see a 12-km light rail line running from Blair Station through a downtown tunnel to Tunney's Pasture.

O'Brien said Ottawa is in a very similar position that Metrolinx (formerly the Greater Toronto Transportation Authority) was in around a year ago and he expects Ottawa to catch up by the end of the year.

"You have to through a number of stages. The first stage is you have to get the buy-in to the vision and we're anticipating that will happen much sooner than six months to nine months," he said.

Alta Vista councillor and chairman of the planning and environment committee Peter Hume said the premier stepping up in Toronto is a promising sign that he understands the importance of public transit in across the province.

However, Hume said projects in Toronto were much further advanced than Ottawa's rapid transit plan.

"They would be years ahead of us in terms of having a plan ready," he said.

"We're hoping with our new plan that, in the very near future, the province is going to be able to make a similar announcement out here in Ottawa."

O'Brien said he supported a model with transit professions running the organization and that he is "completely supportive" of a similar structure in Ottawa, if that what it takes to get a deal with the provincial government.

 
 
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