Alberta Budget 2019: Deferred provincial funding puts Calgary’s Green Line LRT ‘in jeopardy’

Click to play video: 'Calgary council holds meeting to discuss provincial budget cuts'
Calgary council holds meeting to discuss provincial budget cuts
WATCH: Calgary city council held a special meeting to discuss the impacts of the 2019 Alberta budget. Tomasia Dasilva reports. – Oct 28, 2019

A delay in provincial funding for Calgary’s Green Line LRT has put that project in “jeopardy,” a city councillor said Monday.

“We did have an eight-year signed agreement with [the province],” Ward 12 Councillor Shane Keating told Rob Breakenridge on 770 CHQR. “A certain amount of funds would be rolling in on an annual basis.
“What we saw [in the provincial budget] was an 86 per cent cut in the first four years.”
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Under the new UCP budget, Keating said the city will not receive provincial funds for the next two years of construction, leaving Calgary to rely on its own amassed funds and financing, as well as federal dollars. The province would then contribute $25 million in 2021-22 and $50 million in 2022-23.

“A $75 million contribution to a project this size is technically worthless,” Keating said Monday.

LISTEN: Shane Keating discusses the future of the Green Line after the provincial budget with Rob Breakenridge

The province’s $1.5 billion contribution toward the $4.5 billion first-phase buildout of the Green Line LRT — from 16 Avenue N to 126 Avenue S.E. — will now come in the latter half of the project’s timeline.

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Keating said the provincial dollars will amount to $300 million per year for the final five years.

“That’s going to be difficult to do if they can’t even give us more than $75 million in the first four years,” Keating said.

To complicate matters, the federal government reimburses their share of the project after all the work has been completed by the city.

Click to play video: 'Alberta Budget 2019: Nenshi says budget puts Green Line in jeopardy'
Alberta Budget 2019: Nenshi says budget puts Green Line in jeopardy

Keating said the city faced similar deferred contributions from the province during the west LRT extension, eventually costing the city $140 million in debt financing, but that’s a cost Keating refuses to pass along to Calgarians in the case of the Green Line.

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“Even if that means cancelling the project,” Keating said.

“We can’t have a project half done and then the provincial government saying, ‘Sorry, we can’t pay you,'” the Ward 12 councillor said. “We either have to change the scope or we have to change the financial agreements.”

Keating said nearly $400 million has already been spent on the project to relocate utilities, prepare land for construction, purchase properties like the former Lilydale plant in Ramsey and issue contracts.

“When you have a contract signed, you uphold it. And when other contracts that have been signed aren’t being upheld, how can you put that on the backs of other people?”

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