Like many Calgarians, I was disappointed in what was presented to us with the Green Line “Phase 1.” The past two years have seen great work on this City shaping project, and the work involved to get here was huge. I will always support the Green Line because it means jobs, and has the power to transform the Centre North. An area of Calgary desperately needing an LRT line, and it would transform these northern communities who have for too long been ignored.
Thousands of Calgarians attended open houses across the City and gave valuable feedback to City staff about how they saw the Green Line could be a part of their community. Consistently, residents see not just as a transit link but an infrastructure project that can enhance their quality of life. People saw the Green Line as a renewal for inner City communities in Ward 4, and as a way to help promote TOD areas. What is proposed to us now does not meet the expectations, and that is a great disappointment.
When I pushed my Federal colleagues for funding, they, like me, saw the potential of this project and committed $1.53 billion. I was told that this was a 40km line for $4.6 billion; instead it will cost the same and only achieve 20km. I want to know why this happened; why the costs are so much more; and why as the Councillor for what will be the most affected Ward because of the Green Line, was only informed of such drastic changes at the 11th hour when the media broke the story. This is unacceptable. These questions, and more, I hope are answered at Council today. To not have them answered is unacceptable, given the huge amount of tax dollars on the line.
Finally, I will continue to defend tax payers by asking the tough questions of why the costs have completely gone off the rails, and where is the accountability to taxpayers in the “Phase 1” being presented to us today. Simply saying this is the best we can do is little comfort to Calgarians in the North who feel they have been baited and switched.
I have been working with my Office and some of my Colleagues and will be bringing a Motion Arising on this issue. Stay tuned.