Green Line LRT changes met with frustration by MPs, councillor

Calgary City Council roundup for May 15
WATCH: From taxes to an apology, Calgary City Council had a full slate of activity on Monday. Gary Bobrovitz has the details.

Recent changes to the Calgary Transit Green Line LRT are being criticized by Members of Parliament and a city councillor, who say they’re frustrated with the route.

The city revealed the scaled-back plan Thursday, which was about half of what commuters were expecting and hoping for.

READ MORE: Calgary details plans for phase 1 of the Green Line LRT

“Two years ago, I stood with city councillors in front of a map to announce an LRT project that would stretch from the northernmost reaches of Calgary to its southeastern most point. That is not what is being proposed today,” Calgary-Nose Hill MP Michelle Remple said in a joint statement Sunday.

“I suspect many suburban Calgarians who are desperate for access to the LRT are going to be asking some pretty tough questions about why they should accept such a massive reduction in scope while the price tag for this project has ballooned.”

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The original 46-kilometre LRT line was supposed to go as far south as Seton, and as far north as Keystone.

Officials said last week Stage 1 of the new line will go from 16 Avenue North in Crescent Heights to 126 Avenue SE in Shepard. It will stretch over 20 kilometres across the city, and have 14 stops.

READ MORE: Green Line LRT north route outlined at public sessions: ‘traffic patterns will change’

The city said that while there were maps out there that showed the plans for the entire line, it was never the plan to start and finish the entire project at once.

WATCH: Transportation officials can’t yet deliver on the original vision for the Green Line LRT, and instead have presented a scaled back plan — Jill Croteau reports.

First leg of Calgary’s LRT green line unveiled
First leg of Calgary’s LRT green line unveiled

Tom Kmiec, MP for Calgary Shepard, says residents in his riding are also not happy about the proposed route. For some, he said, the promise of LRT was a factor in their decision to move to the neighbourhood.

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“A lot of people who recently purchased homes in my community were told the Green Line would service them by 2024,” he said.

Ward 4 councillor Sean Chu called the new plan “ridiculous,” and said council hadn’t been consulted on the reduction.

“This is a huge change from the original plan, and many communities in my ward are going to be negatively impacted,” Chu said.

“This is blatant mismanagement, and taxpayers should be outraged that they’re being asked to smile and pick up the tab for it.

“It would be irresponsible for council to vote for another cent of taxpayer dollars to be spent on this project until we find out how and why this happened.”

READ MORE: Green Line LRT could be built in phases

Jeff Binks, president of LRT on the Green, is disappointed with the scaled-down version.

“In southeast Calgary there’s not a lot of people between Shepard and the downtown core, and of course, with the proposal only going to 16 Avenue N, it misses a large part of the population up there as well,” Binks said.

Binks said he would like to see council press administration for details on what future phases of the project would look like at Monday’s meeting.

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The price tag for the first stage, which includes underground stations and tunnels and a maintenance and storage facility, is $4.65 billion. The original estimate for the entire project was about $5 billion.

The city proposed to start construction on the Green Line in 2020, with an opening day in 2026.

Plans are in the works to extend to the more suburban neighbourhoods. That work would depend on funding from the provincial and federal governments.