January 17, 2019 9:09 pm
Updated: January 17, 2019 10:37 pm

‘Pick up the phone now’: Nenshi slams Kenney’s take on Green Line progress

WATCH: Mayor Naheed Nenshi is taking issue with UCP Leader Jason Kenney’s comments on Facebook about the Green Line, saying if Kenney wants to know more about the project, he can simply ask. Christa Dao has more on the exchange.

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Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi took issue on Thursday with comments from Alberta Opposition leader Jason Kenney about the city’s Green Line project.

In a Facebook live on his Facebook page Wednesday night, Kenney was asked whether he would still support the expansion of Calgary’s LRT framework, if he were elected premier.

“Yes,” he said. “You may recall, when I was the federal minister responsible for southern Alberta, in the spring of 2015, I announced a $1.5-billion federal commitment for the Green Line.”

READ MORE: Plans for new CTrain line unveiled at funding announcement

The full Green Line route plan spans 46 kilometres from North Pointe to Seton and includes 28 stops. At the time it was announced, officials said the addition would double the city’s existing LRT network.

BELOW: A map of the original Green Line route plan

Green line map Calgary

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However, since the project’s announcement in 2015, city council approved a “Phase 1” in June, 2017 that saw the Green Line’s span reduced by about half its length, winding from 16 Avenue North south to Shepard. With that reduction, it would no longer reach Calgarians in the deep north and south of the city.

READ MORE: Calgary committee approves final alignment of the Green Line LRT

The provincial NDP government pledged its matching $1.53 billion to the Green Line a month later in July 2017.

Kenney raised questions about that major change in his Facebook live.

“My question as a Calgarian, as a taxpayer, as a former federal minister who put $1.5 billion on the table is, ‘What happened to the Green Line? How did it shrink in half?'” Kenney, who holds the legislature seat for Calgary-Lougheed, said Wednesday night.

WATCH: Kenney calls NDP’s handling of Calgary Green Line ‘fiscal incompetence’ (March, 2018)

Kenney went on to blame the changes on “politics in city hall.”

“All I know is if I’m premier, I’m going to pick up the phone and say, ‘Where’s the 40-kilometre long Green Line that I put the money out there for?'” he said. “So, yes to the Green Line — the full Green Line. Not the half the NDP has committed to.”

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

That sentiment didn’t sit well with Nenshi, who said Kenney doesn’t have to wait until the possibility of him becoming premier to check in with the city on the Green Line progress.

“Mr. Kenney said something like, ‘If elected, I’ll pick up the phone and see what happened.’ So I just wanna say, you don’t have to be premier to pick up the phone,” Nenshi said Thursday.

“He says, ‘I have no idea how that happened, so I’ll pick up the phone and find out, if I’m premier.’

“It was a very Trumpian thing: ‘I’ll pick up the phone and ask, ‘What happened to my Green Line?’ Pick up the phone now.”

Nenshi said the federal government knew in 2015 that it was promising money to a project that was still in early stages of development.

“The federal government made a commitment just before an election and they were fully made aware that we hadn’t done any of the engineering work,” he said. “They wanted to announce it before an election but the numbers were very rough. And when the numbers became less rough, they changed.”

In an updated statement from the UCP on Thursday night, the party said Kenney “stands by his comments made during last night’s Facebook live event.”

“The mayor can engage in petty name calling if he likes,” the UCP said. “But Mr. Kenney’s criticisms of Donald Trump are well-documented.”

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