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.

Calgary Herald - - OPINION -

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.

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