|Last night Council agreed that the construction of the Green Line would not be paused. However, the City will continue its research and technical work to make sure the downtown portion (16AVE NE to 4 ST SE) plans are completed and that Council approves any recommendations/changes before construction begins. The largest concern, and the issue that presents the most risk, is the tunnel under the river. Now slated to be a bridge. This removal will allow for environmental risks and financial costs to be lowered.|
The Green Line, Phase 1 will be broken into two stages. The first stage is 16 AVE NE to 4 ST SE. The second stage is 4 ST SE to Shepard SE. This second stage is 80% ready to go, and as stated, the first stage is where the most risks are coming from; tunneling under the downtown core and Bow River is no easy engineering feat.
Last night Council also directed Administration to look at a feasibility review of the North Point to 16th Ave Corridor along Centre Street if the 16th Ave to 4 Street corridor issues are not resolved by January 2020.
In addition, Council asked for an independent review in the form of the ‘Green Line Technical and Risk Committee’ to monitor the Green Line project in the following ways:
– Overall budget and scope;
– Funding for the project;
– Suitability of the proposed technical solutions to the project (ie: downtown portion);
– Project Completion
– Identify any risks, and implement risk mitigation strategies as needed; and
– Overall governance of the project.
Council directed Administration to not issue the Request for Qualification for stage 1, (4 Street to Shepard SE) until the Green Line Technical and Risk Committee had the appropriate time to review the Green Line. Given the breadth, and costs associated with this project, this type of due diligence is something that I am very supportive of.
As Ward 4 constituents have continually stated, the Green Line is greatly needed, especially in the Centre North. It is a city-shaping mega project that will help further develop Ward 4 communities. Although we must ensure construction is done as efficiently and effectively as possible, I will not support any Notice of Motion that is designed to unnecessarily stall the Green Line for the real purpose of trying to end the project. If this occurs, the funding from the Province and Federal Government will be threatened.
Administration coming back to Council and saying that they want to rethink the downtown portion was not the white flag of failure, as some critics jumped on, but only them doing their homework, and removing risks for the project. That is their job. The City has also placed more funds in contingency accounts to help in case something unplanned occurs. This is good fiscal responsibility and prudent work that any company would do for a mega project of this size.
Administration simply wanted to rethink the downtown portion to lower construction risks, and costs, while still keeping to the vision that the public and Council asked for. Again, the largest example of this is the direction by Council to not tunnel under the river. This decision means that we can a) bring the stations closer to the surface which significantly lowers project costs b) decreases environmental risks c) improves accessibility of users d) and ensures the Green line is able to service more Calgarians by extending further north.
I also believe that by Council asking to bring in an independent group to advise on the Green Line, to assess the overall plan, the risks, and if we are missing something. This is both prudent, and respectful of taxpayers.
Council’s decision last night is a good compromise between those on Council who had some concerns, but does not give into the extreme demands that we should pause, or even cancel the Green Line outright which was asked for by a vocal minority in the public arena. A delay of one year would mean a loss of $100M, meaning the Green Line would only shrink in scope.
I am encouraged by this Council direction to continue forward with the Green Line, and look forward to seeing the review being so that we can get Phase 1 of the Green Line under construction by 2021. Let get this built! #ward #yycgreenline #yyc #yyccc
For more information on the Green Line, and the changes Council made last night. Click here.