For a better city, let’s get going on the Green Line
Rev. Anna Greenwood, Matt Grace and J.M. Lawrence argue project would fill critical gap.
On June 1, Calgary city council’s Green Line committee will make an important decision about the transit project. Will councillors delay the project, condemning it to a slow death by indecision? Or will they invest in the transit infrastructure we need to carry our city into the future, support vulnerable Calgarians and contribute to restarting our economy on a more sustainable path?
The Calgary Alliance for the Common Good represents over 35,000 Calgarians bringing together faith, labour, non-profit and community organizations. The Calgary Climate Hub represents a diverse group of organizations and individuals concerned about climate change.
We are raising our collective voice in support of the construction of the Green Line as proposed in the Stage 1 Alignment. We believe the project team has presented a plan that successfully mitigates construction and budget risks and will integrate well with the existing transit system and adjacent neighbourhoods.
The Calgary Alliance advocates for vulnerable Calgarians. Last year, we successfully campaigned to retain the low-income transit pass because public transit is an essential service for vulnerable Calgarians to go to their jobs, to school, to medical and other appointments and to reduce social isolation.
Transit is essential for others, too. The grocery store workers, nurses and other front-line heroes of the pandemic don’t use their capes to get to work; many take the bus or Ctrain.
The Green Line will fill a critical gap in the system by expanding transit to underserved communities in the north-central and southeast areas of the city. The route will connect over 2,300 existing affordable housing units with the South Health Campus, the Central Library and other services. It will provide integration with other major transit routes, including the BRT, getting people on their way quickly on snowy mornings. It will also provide a crucial link across the Bow River to the heart of downtown, avoiding overloading the existing LRT on 7th Avenue.
Bringing a new route into the core makes it more likely we will retain the vitality of downtown. The Green Line will contribute to attracting new businesses and diversifying our economy. By connecting people to social and cultural destinations and transit-oriented development, it will help retain younger workers who want a more urban lifestyle, and the companies seeking our educated workforce.
To kick-start the POST-COVID-19 recovery, governments at all levels are looking for “shovel-ready” projects that can start right away.
The Green Line is ready to go, and it aligns with Green and Fair Stimulus principles. Transit is a key component of the city’s Climate Resilience Strategy, encouraging walkable communities and integration with other active modes of transportation. It will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30,000 tonnes, or the equivalent of removing 6,000 cars from the road on opening day.
As our city works towards economic recovery, the construction of the Green Line will provide 12,000 direct and 8,000 indirect jobs. Splitting the project into two has allowed the planning team to ensure that more of the $4.9-billion budget stays in Calgary. Remember, this money has already been allocated, including $1.53 billion returning to our city from Ottawa.
Ultimately, council’s decision will reveal whether it supports a city that looks after ALL of its citizens or one that turns a blind eye to the transportation hurdles our vulnerable, aging and lower-income people face on a daily basis.
The Green Line is an investment in the future of Calgary. If we delay so we can rehash options that have already been thoroughly considered and rejected, there is a real risk that funding will be pulled. It could be decades before we get another chance to complete the LRT network. Let’s build the infrastructure we need to make Calgary the city we want for the next 10, 20, 30 years. Let’s get going on the Green Line now. Rev. Anna Greenwood is chair of the Calgary Alliance for the Common Good; Matt Grace is co-chair and J. M. Lawrence is a board member of the Calgary Climate Hub.
A new route into the core makes it more likely we will retain the vitality of downtown.