Today marks one of, if not the, most historic moments in my time on Council. Since being elected, I have been pushing for improved transit to the southeast. At first, I thought maybe that’s simply a dedicated transitway. However, we were able to find the money at the municipal level that shifted the conversation towards an LRT. After years of hard work and advocacy at the other orders of government, we have a deal in place and I couldn’t be happier. I was happy when the federal government pledged $1.53 billion for the project, and happy when the province pledged that they would match that. But today makes it all official. We have the agreement signed. It is official. We have the money in place to go to market for the contracts for construction of Stage 1 of the Green Line. Finance Minister Joe Ceci said that public transit is critical for building strong cities. Premier Rachel Notley echoed his sentiment and said that “great cities have great transit systems and the foresight to build them.”
As the Premier stated, today is a big day for Calgary. In her words, “this agreement locks in $3 billion with equal parts from the provincial government and the federal government allowing Stage 1 of the Green Line LRT to officially go ahead.” Locked in. Those are the words I was so happy to hear. Take a look at part of her speech below (and I really apologize for portrait mode, you can bet it was crowded for this announcement):
This IS a historic day. This is the biggest infrastructure project in Calgary’s history. According to the Mayor, this investment is three times larger than the second biggest investment in Calgary’s history. The Green Line, when complete, will double our city’s rapid transit network. It will deliver transit to some of the most transit-deficient areas of the city, allowing easier mobility to downtown and across the city.
I am happy that our partners at the provincial and federal government were able to get this deal done. I’m thankful for the efforts of the Mayor to get this done. He said that I live, breathe and sleep this “choo choo train,” and while that may be true, I certainly needed the help of every member of Council, past and present, to get us to this point. Take a look at what the mayor had to say here:
With the agreement signed, with the funding locked in, we are able to go to market and get some contracts signed for the construction of the line and the trains themselves. While opposition leaders have stated their support for the Green Line, having a signed agreement makes it tougher for any change in government to impact the Green Line’s funding. When prompted by a reporter asking if another government could remove this funding, Mayor Nenshi jumped in and said, unequivocally, that “this train has left the station.”
With the funding secured, the agreement signed, we only have two more milestones to complete. The first is the sod turning to mark the start of the Green Line’s construction, which will happen within the next year. The second is driving that LRV down the tracks for the first time. Today, the dream of the Green Line is so much closer to reality. The Green Line has finally left the station. Choo choo!