renovate the federal building, but park the parkade on the drawing board.

Infrastructure Minister and Drumheller-Stettler Tory MLA Jack Hayden announced last week that the Government of Alberta will be renovating the long-empty asbestos-laced Federal Building.

Closed since 1989, it will cost an estimated $200 million to renovate the 1950s art-deco style building sitting on the northeast edge of Alberta’s Legislative Grounds. While I agree that renovating and reopening the Federal Building is a smart idea, I take issue with the proposed construction of a $156 million underground parkade to be built during the renovations. I have a hard time believing that building a 650 car parkade in Edmonton’s already traffic congested downtown core is a good idea on any level.

It seems to me that it could be a much smarter and more responsible use of $156 million for the Government of Alberta to work with the City of Edmonton to ensure that the redevelopment plans are coordinated with Edmonton’s already existing transportation demand management plans and Downtown revitalization plans. This could include directing this funding towards the expansion of public transportation so that Edmontonians working in the area could more efficiently use the Grandin LRT Station, which is directly attached to the Legislature Grounds (especially as the LRT expands southbound).

The $156 million could also go a long way towards the creation of a regional transit service in the Capital Region (eliminating the duplication of services that currently exist between Edmonton Transit Service, St. Albert Transit, and Strathcona Country Transit). With St. Albert Mayor Nolan Crouse chairing a regional committee on transit issues, this kind of investment in a regional transit infrastructure could do wonders in creating a more efficient transportation system in Alberta’s Capital Region (and maybe alleviate some of the tough financial situations that municipalities such as Edmonton and St. Albert are in).

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