Momentum is a funny thing. Once you kick a snowball down a hill, it continues to pick up speed and it continues to grow. In order for this to happen, the conditions need to be just right and the snowball must have a strong foundation.
Two years ago Council made the decision to make an initial funding commitment to the Green Line. By dedicating $520M of initial funding to the Green Line, Council made it known that we were serious about investing in public transit expansion. The snowball grew.
In the spring of 2015 the Federal Government announced the creation of the Public Transit Fund. This fund created a framework where municipalities could receive funding support for public transit expansion. The Public Transit Fund gave the City of Calgary an opportunity to explore moving the Green Line straight to LRT with the inclusion of funding from the other orders of government. In May, I successfully introduced a motion in partnership with Councillor Stevenson and Councillor Chu. This Motion asked Administration to explore the phasing options of moving the Green Line straight to LRT. This sent another clear message that The City of Calgary was ready. The snowball grew.
On July 24, 2015 the Government of Canada announced a partnership with the City of Calgary to fund the Green Line LRT. This announcement opened the door for the City of Calgary to triple the funding that was committed to the Green Line. This funding announcement was the product of persistent lobbying and a clear vision that the City of Calgary was committed to investing in public transit. The historic funding announcement was the single largest Federal Government investment in an Alberta infrastructure project. The snowball grew.
Over the last number of months I have had the pleasure of meeting with many Calgary MLAs to talk about the role the Provincial Government will need to play for this project to be completed. On October 9, 2015 I hosted a Green Line 101 session here at City Hall with Councillors Carra, Chu and Stevenson. This session was attended by a number of MLAs from the government caucus, and we were able to have a very productive discussion on the Green Line LRT. I have also exchanged a number of letters with the Transportation Minister over the last number of months, and I have had some very detailed conversations with the Finance Minister. I have received strong signals that the Green Line LRT is in line with the priorities of this Provincial Government. I have made it clear to the Provincial Government that this project will create tens of thousands of jobs, contribute to a substantial reduction of congestion on our major roadways, and make a contribution to reducing green house gas emissions. The snowball continues to grow.
While the benefits of the Green Line have been acknowledge, the Provincial Government has reminded us that the City of Calgary has yet to make a formal funding request for the Green Line LRT. As it currently stands there is no formal application process that the City of Calgary could use for Green Line LRT funding. There is a lack of clarity on exactly what a formal request for funding from the City of Calgary would look like.
On Monday, November 9 I will be introducing a Notice of Motion that will be critical for the City of Calgary to continue the Green Line LRT momentum.
If passed, this Motion would request that the Mayor write a formal letter on behalf of the City of Calgary to the Transportation Minister. This letter would serve as the City of Calgary’s official request for the Provincial Government to fund the Green Line LRT.
The recent Provincial budget did not specifically mention funding for the Green Line LRT. It is my belief that we must continue the momentum for this project and have some kind of funding clarity from the Provincial Government when the spring 2016 budget is released. It is my hope that our formal request for funding will accelerate the City of Calgary’s discussions with the Provincial Government and allow for this snowball to continue growing.
There is a phrase I have been using a lot lately…and I think it most appropriately summarizes this Motion:
The train is a comin’!