If you have followed the course of my career as Ward 12’s representative, you know that I have been the fiercest advocate for the Green Line. After the news from the provincial budget came out regarding the Province’s third of the project’s costs, I was devastated and made comments suggesting I don’t know if I can support this project anymore. If a project you had poured your heart, soul, and energy into for 9 years had the rug pulled out from under it, your initial reaction would be shock and devastation too.
However, I need to stress that these comments were not withdrawing my support for the Green Line getting built. My comments were that “without a drastic change in the financial model or scope of the project, I can’t put the burden on the backs of Calgary taxpayers.” This is absolutely not a withdrawal of support for the project I have pushed for, lived and breathed for nearly a decade. I am 100% behind the Green Line. After that initial shock, we as a City now need to figure out how to get this project moving, with or without the Province’s support.
First, let’s be clear on what has happened. The Province has cut the money it had promised to deliver to this project by 86% over the next four years. Kicking in $75 million on a project of this scale is essentially worthless. On top of that, buried in Bill 20, they have drafted language for a new Act, the Public Transit and Green Infrastructure Project Act (go to page 182) specific to Calgary’s Green Line and Edmonton’s Valley Line West.
Here are just a few examples of proposed language in the Act:
So with the changes from the Province over the next four years and this Act looming over the project, what can we do? I put my name forward to head up the Green Line Committee and focus my efforts to ensure that the Green Line will move forward. The Green Line Committee will now be tasked with the responsibility to come up with viable options for the Green Line moving forward. I am looking forward to our first meeting on November 15.
As Chair, along with Vice Chair Davison and Councillors Sutherland, Gondek, Carra, and Farrell, I will take this role very seriously and intend to deliver this train that I have worked so hard to bring to reality. It’s absolutely been frustrating to me , as I’m sure it has to many of you, that it took so long for promised funding from the other orders of government to be delivered. I will be talking with our partners at the federal government to see if the funding agreement can be revised somewhat. We can work to move forward on Phase 1 with the more than $3 billion between the City and the Federal government and turn our attention to Phase 2 when the province decides to come on board with its financial contribution.
The Green Line project is very much in alignment with the federal government’s stated goals and platform and am confident we will find a workable solution. Despite the changes laid out by the Province, I will roll my sleeves up and find a solution. This may result in a bit of a change in alignment and scope, but I will do everything in my power to ensure track starts getting laid and a train is delivered to Calgarians who have been in desperate need of it for years. My support for the Green Line is unwavering and as strong as it ever was. Yes, my comments last week came from a place of shock, disappointment, and devastation. But as the old adage goes, you get back on the horse. I remain committed to the Green Line and am 100% behind it. We will work hard to find a workable solution that works for Calgarians today and in the future. We will build the Green Line, we will get people back to work, and once it is built, provide better access for Calgarians to move about the city and get to work. I am all in on the Green Line.