Keating’s Friday Short Blog (Third Edition)

Keating’s Friday Short-Blog, March 14, 2014

My thoughts…

Less than a week after the province was criticized in the media for delivering a budget that was absent of transit funding, provincial politicians announced that it would commit $600 million toward the southeast section of the “Valley Line” of Edmonton’s LRT system.

The province has committed:

  • up to $250 million in GreenTRIP funding over three years beginning in 2016-17,
  • up to $150 million in matching provincial funding if the federal government approves this project under the new Building Canada Fund beginning in 2016-2017,
  • and, up to $200 million in an interest-free loan to be repaid by the city over 10 years.

What does this mean for Calgary’s southeast LRT line?

The funding announcement is a big win for Edmonton. It’s also a win for Calgary, though, on a much smaller scale. Now that the Province is willing to provide interest-free loans we can trust that we are going to have an opportunity to apply for money that wasn’t necessarily on the table a week ago. The matching provincial funding from the Building Canada Fund means we can expect something similar to the $150 million committed to the Valley Line.

The City of Calgary has committed $520 million to the Green Line to build a BRT right-of-way from Harvest Hills to the South Health Campus in Seton. $400 million of this fund will be used to build the southeast portion.  It’s important to note that 90 per cent of this infrastructure is transferable to the future LRT.  Now that the provincial government is willing to commit funding may allow us to speed up progress putting an LRT on the Green Line.

One possible iteration that I have considered looks similar to this: we could look for support from a private developer to the tune of $400 million to match the City’s effort.  This combined with a matching commitment of $400 million from both the provincial and federal governments would give us $1.6 billion. Whether these funds come from interest-free loans or from the Building Canada Fund, it does provide Calgary with enough to cover the estimated cost of building the LRT from Downtown to Quarry Park.