Mayor welcomes LRT spending in Ontario budget

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson welcomed Thursday’s provincial budget, saying it “sets the stage for a continued partnership for making our community stronger in Ottawa.”

“Stage Two LRT was mentioned specifically in the budget documents and I’m pleased to see that it remains a priority for our provincial partners,” he said.

The city is looking for $1 billion each from the federal and provincial governments for the second stage of its light-rail project, which would extend the network from Bayshore to Orleans and south to Riverside South.

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The mayor says he remains optimistic the province will come up with its share in the next year or year-in-a-half.

“I have no reason to doubt that the province will not be there with the full $1-billion dollar request,” Mr. Watson said.

Beyond money for light rail, Ontario’s budget included free tuition for students from families who make less than $50,000.

The provincial Liberals also plan to introduce a cap-and-trade system aimed at reducing Ontario’s greenhouse-gas emissions – but which will also increase the cost of gas across the province.

That plan won the approval of Ottawa’s mayor, who says he also hopes to tap into to some of the money the province plans to spend on housing for projects in the capital.

The government intends to spend $52 million to build two new schools in Ottawa and to retrofit or build additions on four others. This will include 78 new child-care spaces.

Meanwhile, the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre in Ottawa will get $1.5 million for a new, 30-bed facility.

The city is also looking to the province to help pay for its initiatives to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017, Mr. Watson said.

“Ottawa will be one of the first at the table to pitch our programs and seek funding for our programs for 2017 initiatives,” he said.

With files from The Canadian Press

This article originally appeared on on Feb. 25

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