Calgary city council gives go-ahead for stage 1 of Green Line LRT

Calgary Transit Green Line
The Green Line will wind 50 kilometers from North Pointe to Seton, doubling the size of the existing LRT network. Cody Coates / Global News

Calgary city council has voted 12-3 in favour of going ahead with the first stage of the north-south Green Line LRT project.

The approved project will stretch 20 kilometres from 16 Avenue N. to Shepard in the southeast, and would be roughly half the length of the entire proposed line which would run from 160 Avenue in the north to Seton in the southeast. The estimated cost of the project is $4.65 billion.

“The project has to start somewhere,” said Coun. Shane Keating, who has been a long-time proponent of the Green Line. “While I have my own concerns about stage one, I believe it is the most logical starting point for the project, [and] that will set up the completion of the full line.”

Councillors Andre Chabot, Ward Sutherland and Joe Magliocca all voted against the motion to move ahead with stage one of the project. Chabot questioned why council needed to make a decision on Monday and why it couldn’t wait until a final alignment was presented in June.

“I can’t support moving forward on this today,” Chabot said. “[It’s] not that I’m not in support of moving ahead of the Green Line – I still have questions on funding [and] what’s within our means.”

On the weekend, some federal politicians weighed in on the project, expressing disappointment that the proposed first stage would not put rail transit within reach of their constituents.

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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,” Calgary Shepard MP Tom Kmeic said.

READ MORE : Green Line LRT changes met with frustration by MPs, councillor

Coun. Sean Chu is also disappointed the first stage of the project will not stretch north of 16 Avenue.

“I’m sorry to Calgarians like those in my ward who, like me, were excited about a Green Line (and) who are now feeling betrayed” Chu said. “For too long, the centre-north has been ignored.”

Administration now needs to put together a proposal to present to the federal and provincial governments to secure funding for the project. Ottawa has already committed more than $1 billion to the idea. On Friday, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said the province would not commit to funding until it had a final design and funding proposal.

City administration hopes to see construction of the first stage begin in 2020, with a completion date of 2026.

With files from Heide Pearson