Calgary councillor concerned about Green Line extension criteria

A proposed sketch of Calgary's Green Line LRT. Courtesy: City of Calgary

At city hall on Wednesday, Calgary’s transportation committee heard about a number of options for future stages of the Green Line LRT project.

The committee was given a list of potential Green Line LRT extensions under the categories of small, medium, large and mega projects, along with their anticipated costs.

However, a councillor representing north-central Calgary raised questions about whether a list of criteria will hurt her area’s chance of ever getting the Green Line via an extension.

Ward 3’s Jyoti Gondek is concerned that ridership is not the main criteria when extensions of the Green Line are contemplated.

LISTEN: Ward 3 Coun. Jyoti Gondek joins Rob Breakenridge to discuss the need for the Green Line to go into north-central Calgary

She said she’s also worried Green Line extensions would be judged against other LRT and transit projects.

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“I would advocate to get anything I need in my ward to meet your criteria. That’s what we’re falling into now. This process will necessarily make ward compete against ward. I’m very worried about that,” Gondek said.

Coun. Shane Keating, who also chairs the committee, said he doesn’t want to see this come down to a ward-versus-ward event, either.

“We can’t just go off of saying, ‘I’ve been waiting 30 years’ because in all honesty, the south, Ward 12 has been waiting for more than 30 years. But that shouldn’t be a determination today. Ridership is one character, one qualifier; it’s not the only one because it can’t be the only one. You have to look at a multitude of things before you make your decision,” said Keating.

An extension north from 16th Avenue to North Pointe could cost more than $2 billion, while further extensions in the southeast would be less expensive but ultimately have fewer riders.

Transportation general manager Michael Thompson said the priority of a project won’t simply be based on the capital cost when setting up criteria to evaluate projects.

“Not only the evaluation on the capital costs but the benefits — the benefits being the ridership, the social, economic, environmental impacts and benefits. What we are proposing to do is to create common criteria across all of our future transit projects,” Thompson said.

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No decisions are being made yet, but city administration wanted to give the committee an evaluation of the benefits of potential Stage 2 projects.

The Stage 1 update at committee on Wednesday said that analysis of the idea of a single-bore tunnel under the Bow River and through downtown is underway.

A report on that is set to come back to committee in June.

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