2018 has been a busy year thus far at City Hall. As the calendar flips into July, now seems like a good time to reflect on what has transpired over the first half of the year:
Federal Government Announces Funding for Green Line LRT
On May 15th, Prime Minister Trudeau was in Calgary to confirm that the Government of Canada would invest $1.53B billion for the Green Line LRT. The funding had been promised by the previous Conservative government, and was confirmed by the current government. The announcement in May removed any uncertainty about the funding commitments. We were provided confirmation on the amount of funding and the period of time it would be amortized over. By amortizing the funding over a shorter period of time, the project will not need to dedicate as much money cover debt servicing costs. Less money on debt servicing means more resources to execute the project. We now have fully committed funds for Stage 1 of the project. The project team is preparing the project for tendering and contracts. Construction will begin by 2020 with a completion anticipated in 2026.
Event Centre Assessment Committee Created
In June Council agreed to create an Event Centre Assessment Committee. Why? Because a clear majority on Council feel that it is important we find a way to restart discussions with the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation (CSEC). Previous negotiations were done almost entirely through Administration with guidance from Council. The new committee has representation from three members of Council. I am pleased to be serving on the committee along with my colleagues Jeff Davison (Chair) and Ward Sutherland (Vice-Chair). Over the next number of months, we will be finalizing guiding principles for negotiations and looking to engage directly with CSEC. I believe there is a real possibility to find a deal that brings a world-class facility to Calgary while ensuring that public dollars are used for public benefit.
Olympic Bid Exploration Continues
The process is continuing as Calgary considers a bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics and Paralympics. As time goes by, Council has a clearer idea of the costs and benefits of pursuing this venture, although we still have more important details that need to be refined. And we need to get Calgarians more comprehensively involved in the process in the months to follow. Council agreed on a comprehensive public engagement process that began in June. The public engagement process will educate Calgarians about the bid process, seek public input on whether or not Calgary should submit a bid, and identify issues, concerns and opportunities of a potential bid. Council has also agreed on a plebiscite. Language of the plebiscite is still being agreed on, and it is likely to be held in November.
Shepard Waste Management Facility Service Schedule
Due to budgetary constraints there were a number of service changes for Calgary’s landfills. The most significant changes were seen at the Shepard facility. The changes saw the facility only open Tuesday-Friday with no service for commercial or residential customers. The facility was kept open these days for intake of the Green Cart fleet.
I have worked with Administration over the last number of months to explore revisions to the schedule that may open up some opportunities for residential customers. Earlier this year Waste & Recycling announced that they would be keeping the Throw & Go facility for residential customers from the beginning of April until the end of October. Initially the service was going to be offered Tuesday-Friday from 8AM-5PM. While this was a welcomed change, I kept pushing to ensure there was a weekend availability for customers. Waste & Recycling was able to find room in their budget and added Saturday to the schedule.
Autonomous Vehicle Testing in Calgary
Last year Council made a number of decisions in an effort to boost Calgary as a destination for autonomous vehicle testing. The autonomous vehicle industry is expanding dramatically. What the industry needs is space to test their technologies. And Calgary is prepared to provide just that.
An autonomous shuttle pilot will begin in the fall connecting passengers from the Calgary Zoo to the Telus Spark – two of Calgary’s premier tourist destinations. This spring we have also seen NASA and Lockheed Martin test new drone technology at the Shepard Waste Management Facility. These tests are making use of the facility on a day when it is typically closed for business. Testing will continue through the rest of the year.