Government of Canada unveils its plans to transform Edmonton's light rail transit network
Following the announcement that Toronto and Vancouver have been recognized as the best cities for public transportation in Canada by Redfin and Walk Score, the Government of Canada are now set to transform Edmonton’s travel infrastructure.
Coming in at number nine on the list, the city’s light rail transit network is set to be expanded. Crucial to Edmonton’s economic growth, as well as enabling it to achieve its environmental, economic and community led ambitions, the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, has been joined by Jon Carson, MLA for Edmonton–Meadowlark, on behalf of the Honourable Brian Mason, Alberta Minister of Transportation, and His Worship Don Iveson, Mayor of Edmonton, to announce federal funding for two major Light Rail Transit (LRT) projects in Edmonton.
The Valley Line West LRT project will include the second and next stage of the Valley Line construction. It will involve extending the line by approximately 14km from downtown Edmonton to the west-end community of Lewis Farms. Additionally, the Metro Line Northwest LRT Extension project will be the first stage of an expansion of the line and will extend the line by 1.5km from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology to the Blatchford development.
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"Investing in new urban transit networks and service extensions is essential to ensuring people can spend less time in traffic commuting home from work and more precious time with their families,” stated The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities in a recent press release. “These important extensions to Edmonton's LRT network will provide residents in the western and north-western communities with convenient access to the downtown core, all while improving the user experience, accommodating a growing ridership and making the transit system more accessible."
All work will provide significant improvement to Edmonton's LRT system by extending its services to new areas of the city, improving the user experience, increasing accessibility, and laying the groundwork for future expansion and growth. The Government of Canada will provide more than $1bn in funding for both projects through the Investing in Canada infrastructure plan. The Government of Alberta is also contributing approximately $1.17bn through the Climate Leadership Plan. On top of this, the City of Edmonton is providing approximately $706mn.
"Edmonton is one of Canada's fastest growing cities, and we are planning and building our city with this growth in mind,” added His Worship Don Iveson, Mayor of Edmonton. “We are undertaking the most ambitious expansion of our LRT network in our history so we can grow smart and sustainably, and keep more than a million people moving. It is a true representation of partnership between all levels of government, a partnership that is needed in order to continue to make valuable investments like these that will benefit the generations to come."
How innovation is transforming government
According to Washington Technology’s Top 100 list, Leidos is the largest IT provider to the government. But as Lieutenant General William J. Bender explains, “that barely scratches the surface” of the company’s portfolio and drive for innovation.
Bender, who spent three and a half decades in the military, including a stint as the U.S. Air Force’s Chief Information Officer (CIO), has seen action in the field and in technology during that time, and it runs in the family. Bender’s son is an F-16 instructor pilot. So it stands to reason Bender Senior intends to ensure a thriving technological base for the U.S. Air Force. “What we’re really doing here is transforming the federal government from the industrial age into the information age and doing it hand-in-hand with industry,” he says.
The significant changes that have taken place in the wider technology world are precisely the capabilities Leidos is trying to pilot the U.S. Air Force through. It boils down to developing cyberspace as a new domain of battle, globally connected and constantly challenged by the threat of cybersecurity attacks.
“We recognize the importance of the U.S. Air Force’s missions,” says Bender, “and making sure they achieve those missions. We sit side-by-side with the air combat command, intelligence surveillance, and reconnaissance infrastructure across the Air Force. There are multiple large programs where the Air Force is partnering with Leidos to ensure their mission is successfully accomplished 24/7/365. In this company, we’re all in on making sure there’s no drop in capability.”
That partnership relies on a shared understanding of delivering successful national security outcomes, really understanding the mission at hand, and Leidos’ long-standing relationship of over 50 years with the federal government.
To look at where technology is going, Bender thinks it is important to look back at the last 10 to 15 years. “What we’ve seen is a complete shift in how technology gets developed,” he says. “It used to be that the government invested aggressively in research and development, and some of those technologies, once they were launched in a military context, would find their way into the commercial space. That has shifted almost a hundred percent now, where the bulk of the research and development dollars and the development of tech-explicit technologies takes place in the commercial sector.”
“There’s a long-standing desire to adopt commercial technology into defense applications, but it’s had a hard time crossing the ‘valley of death’ [government slang for commercial technologies and partnerships that fail to effectively transition into government missions]. Increasingly we’re able to do that. We need to look at open architectures and open systems for a true plug-and-play capability. Instead of buying it now and trying to guess what it’s going to be used for 12 years from now, it should be evolving iteratively.”