Funding for SETWAY

10 year/$520 million Transit Plan

Regardless of what I say or do I’m probably not going to make many of you happy. I know that this looks like a flip-flop or reneging on a promise, but it has more to do with delivering on my guarantee of building a direct transit line from the southeast to downtown. The fact is thousands of Calgarians spend well over one hour each day commuting to and from work.

Rick Bell’s Calgary Sun article states “if [Shane Keating] could get $52 million for 10 straight years going to the Southeast LRT he would be jumping for joy”. He wrote “Keating is also strongly opposed to the city automatically taking any tax breaks.” “The process is flawed”, and for that reason Shane Keating wants to ‘give it back’.

Given the need for accessible transit in the southeast, it made sense to debate whether we should use the $52 million (2015-2024) for SETWAY.  For me, and for many Calgarians, this is the best decision no matter how you spin it.  While it was a very tough decision, it’s one that had to be done. I don’t mind owning up to this decision. It is the fulfillment of my campaign promise.  I didn’t promise this to special interest or lobbyist groups, but to the residents of Ward 12. Here are some important points to consider:

  • The tax room vacated in 2013 was quickly scooped up by City Council. I’ve always had the stance that the process to auto absorb the vacated tax room was flawed. In both 2012 and 2013 I voted against taking the tax room. I argued that Council should debate about whether to absorb or to return the money to tax payers.
  • My notice of motion scrapped this policy.  Council has to identify an area of desperate need in order to take this money.
  • For residents of Ward 12, the Southeast finally got its day.  On occasion we have sat idle and watched as the west LRT was built, and then the northeast airport tunnel.  Without this decision, it is possible it would have been several years (maybe even a decade) before the City could raise enough to kick-start SETWAY and the SE LRT.
  • Some of the many benefits of building the Green Line include employment opportunities, less strain on existing infrastructure in and around the downtown core, and reduce congestion and travel times for southeast residents.
  • The reduction on your tax bill will offset the 5 per cent property tax increase for 2014. This comes from the fact that we returned the tax room for 2014. While property taxes will go back up in 2015.  This money will kick-start the Green Line stretching over 40 kilometres from the City’s far north to the new South Health Campus in Seton.  The Green Line will ultimately be converted for C-Train use.