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Col­leagues shoot down coun­cil­lor’s at­tempt to pause Phase 2 of south­west BRT

Calgary Sun - - NEWS - ANNALISE KLINGBEIL ak­ling­beil@post­media.com @An­naliseAK

Con­struc­tion on a ded­i­cated bus lane down 14 St. is ex­pected to start next year, af­ter a rookie coun­cil­lor’s pitch to pause the con­tro­ver­sial plan for ex­panded tran­sit in the city’s south­west failed to gain sup­port at coun­cil Mon­day.

Ward 11 Coun. Jeromy Farkas joined forces with Ward 13 Coun. Diane Col­ley-Urquhart — who was a no-show at Mon­day’s meet­ing — to pen the un­suc­cess­ful no­tice of mo­tion that asked ad­min­is­tra­tion not to award ten­der of Phase 2 of the south­west bus rapid tran­sit (BRT) line, ef­fec­tively block­ing its route down 14 St. S.W.

Con­struc­tion com­pa­nies have al­ready bid on the project’s sec­ond phase and the at­tempt to de­lay ten­der­ing un­til the project’s sec­ond seg­ment was re­viewed, in­clud­ing a look at all costs, was de­feated in an 11-3 vote af­ter hours of de­bate.

Coun­cil­lors Sean Chu, Joe Magliocca and Farkas were the only three to sup­port halt­ing the project, and while the idea failed to gain a sim­ple ma­jor­ity, a su­per-ma­jor­ity of 10 votes was needed for the pitch to pass be­cause the no­tice of mo­tion was a re­con­sid­er­a­tion of a de­ci­sion coun­cil made in July 2016.

“I’m dis­ap­pointed that coun­cil chose to over­rule the wishes of tens of thou­sands of Cal­gar­i­ans who live in the af­fected wards,” Farkas said af­ter the de­ci­sion. “I’m go­ing to be push­ing hard to hold this de­ci­sion ac­count­able, to en­sure that the south­west BRT as ap­proved is de­liv­ered on bud­get.”

The 22-km tran­sit­way, ap­proved by coun­cil in ’11 and ini­tially es­ti­mated to cost $40 mil­lion, is part of the city’s 30-year RouteA­head tran­sit plan. It will ferry rid­ers to and from down­town to Mount Royal Univer­sity, Rock­yview Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal and Wood­lands. The seg­ment of the south­west BRT that Col­leyUrquhart and Farkas failed to pause ex­tends from south of Glen­more Tr. to Wood­bine, and in­cludes ded­i­cated bus lanes in front of the Rock­yview Hos­pi­tal, an un­der­ground bus tun­nel at 90 Ave. and 14 St. S.W., two pedes­trian bridges and a tran­sit ter­mi­nus in the neigh­bour­hood of Wood­bine.

Elected of­fi­cials ar­gued pas­sion­ately against the pro­posed pause to a project that was heav­ily de­bated be­fore Farkas was elected and has long faced vo­cal op­po­si­tion.

“I was re­ally ask­ing my­self, ‘Why do I find this no­tice of mo­tion so of­fen­sive? Is it just be­cause I sup­port the project?’” Mayor Na­heed Nen­shi said. “Ac­tu­ally, no. It’s be­cause this no­tice of mo­tion — in and be­hind it — im­plies that coun­cil has not done its job.”

Ward 14 Coun. Peter De­mong said halt­ing the project could be detri­men­tal to the city’s rep­u­ta­tion and fi­nances.

“I just can’t think of a log­i­cal, great, solid rea­son — nor have I heard one here — as to what paus­ing for three weeks would get us,” he said.

Dur­ing de­bate, Ward 3 Coun. Jy­oti Gon­dek said the city must in­vest in trans­porta­tion to ad­dress ci­ti­zen needs.

“We have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to of­fer op­tions for peo­ple to get around the city — whether it’s for work or school, child care or se­nior care, med­i­cal needs or so­cial needs,” she said.

“I’m dis­ap­pointed coun­cil chose to over­rule the wishes of tens of thou­sands of Cal­gar­i­ans...” Ward 11 Coun. Jeromy Farkas

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