On July 6, 2017, the Government of Alberta announced funding for the Greenline LRT, which was the final funding amount and officially made the Greenline LRT a reality. This is the good news.
The bad news is that only the central part of it is funded, and northern (and southern) Calgary are left out of the plan, in spite of the fact that the need is greatest in those areas. Worse, our current Councillor for Ward 3 was the sole vote AGAINST attempting to build more of the LRT if possible with the same funding if efficiencies could be found. In short, he voted to not even try to make the northern Greenline LRT stage happen even if we found the money for it in the current budget!
So what do we do now? How do we get the much-needed Greenline LRT to the north? Outside of downtown, by 2023 there will be a population catchment of 102,000 residents outside of the Downtown in the north and only 43,000 in the south. We clearly need it.
Here is my action plan:
The 2 major reasons for northern Calgary being left out of Stage 1 were: expected delays in acquiring land along Centre Street, and lack of expected funding after the decision was made to implement the hugely expensive underground/underwater option. Therefore we need to address these 2 reasons first and foremost:
- Land acquisition along Centre Street needs to begin immediately. It can take a long time due to protections the current 289 landholders have against a City just seizing their property (these protections are a good thing and we need to take care of these folks properly) so the sooner we begin, the better. It would be easy now for the City to lose focus on this while concerning itself with Stage 1, and I intend to make sure that focus remains sharp.
- Funding is more difficult, since Stage 1 is extremely expensive. I intend to pursue the following:
- Begin developing funding options for Stage 2 immediately, not years from now. It would be best if there was no gap between the Stages – it would be very expensive to re-hire the workers, etc. The North Stage needs to be built seamlessly after (preferably partially in parallel to) Stage 1.
- IF Calgary pursues the 2026 Olympics, the North Stage, at least up to 96 Ave to connect the Airport to Downtown, absolutely should be part of the Olympic infrastructure process and needs to be completed in 2026 at the same time as Stage 1. I’m not relying on the Olympics, though.