GREEN LINE DE­CI­SION NEARS

Late changes pos­si­ble ahead of what is ex­pected to be a very close vote

Calgary Herald - - FRONT PAGE - MADELINE SMITH ma­smith@post­media.com twit­ter.com/mek­smith

Tight vote ex­pected this week

City coun­cil is about to de­bate the fu­ture of the Green Line LRT project — po­ten­tially for the last time.

Stage 1 of the mas­sive LRT ex­pan­sion project is due for a fi­nal vote this week af­ter the city took nearly a year to re­draw the path through down­town to avoid go­ing over bud­get.

At least eight of Cal­gary’s 15 coun­cil mem­bers will have to vote in favour of the align­ment for it to be ap­proved, and a se­ries of pro­posed changes could al­ter the re­sult. As it stands, city of­fi­cials are rec­om­mend­ing a line that runs from Shep­ard to 16th Av­enue N., with a tun­nel un­der the Belt­line and down­town, a bridge over the Bow River and a sur­face-level train run­ning in the mid­dle of Cen­tre Street N.

This piece of the Green Line is the first in the planned 46-kilo­me­tre ex­pan­sion from 160th Av­enue N. to Se­ton.

Post­media asked coun­cil mem­bers last week where they stand ahead of Mon­day’s meet­ing. Here’s what they said about how they might vote on the align­ment as it cur­rently stands.

MAYOR NAHEED NENSHI

Yes.

Nenshi said af­ter this month’s Green Line com­mit­tee that he be­lieves the city’s cur­rent plan is the best way for­ward, but he’s will­ing to con­sider “mi­nor” changes.

“I do not go into stuff like this lightly,” he said. “And I am very con­fi­dent that the rec­om­men­da­tion we have be­fore us is a bat­tle-tested rec­om­men­da­tion, it is a rec­om­men­da­tion that can be de­liv­ered on time and on bud­get, and can get Cal­gar­i­ans the tran­sit ser­vice that they’ve been wait­ing for.”

WARD 1: WARD SUTHER­LAND

No, un­less amend­ments are made.

Suther­land is part of a group of coun­cil­lors ask­ing for a change that would ap­prove the Green Line from Shep­ard to Eau Claire, but hold off on the Bow River cross­ing for now. He said in a state­ment last week that “it would be reck­less to move ahead with the cur­rent align­ment,” and told re­porters he thinks it would be “more prag­matic” to split Stage 1 of the Green Line into three seg­ments — the south­east, the core and the river cross­ing to 16th Av­enue N.

Suther­land didn’t re­spond to re­quests for com­ment Thurs­day or Fri­day about whether any­thing has changed.

WARD 2: JOE MAGLIOCCA

No.

Magliocca has con­sis­tently voted no on mul­ti­ple Green Line de­ci­sions over the years, and said he plans to stay the course.

“I’m a def­i­nite no con­sid­er­ing the cur­rent pro­posed route, the bal­loon­ing cost of the Green Line and the un­cer­tainty around the fu­ture of pub­lic tran­sit,” Magliocca said in a mes­sage Thurs­day.

WARD 3: JYOTI GONDEK

Yes, but with an amend­ment. Gondek said Thurs­day that while she’s “pre­pared to sup­port the ma­jor­ity of the rec­om­men­da­tions be­fore us,” a firm com­mit­ment that north Cal­gary is the next pri­or­ity for fur­ther LRT ex­pan­sion is a must for her. She also wants coun­cil to agree on seed fund­ing for bus rapid tran­sit im­prove­ments that can be con­verted into LRT.

“My con­cern con­tin­ues to be that if this coun­cil is not will­ing to make a com­mit­ment to the north, then why are we spend­ing money on a bridge that makes peo­ple feel like they’re go­ing to get ser­vice when we refuse to ac­tu­ally pri­or­i­tize that ser­vice through a vote?”

WARD 4: SEAN CHU

Yes.

Chu pub­licly an­nounced Fri­day that he’ll sup­port the Green Line, but he added in an in­ter­view that he’s also in­ter­ested in an amend­ment to make sure the north is a tran­sit pri­or­ity for the fu­ture. Many of the neigh­bour­hoods in his north-cen­tral Ward 4 would be served by fu­ture ex­pan­sion of the Green Line.

“My de­ci­sion is based on what’s the best for Ward 4,” he said. “What I’ve heard loud and clear from the pub­lic, res­i­dents of Ward 4, is that we need some­thing.”

WARD 5: GE­ORGE CHA­HAL

Yes.

Cha­hal said he’s sat­is­fied with the work that’s been done to de­cide on the rec­om­mended Green Line align­ment. He also wor­ries the city could lose the pro­vin­cial and fed­eral fund­ing that’s been promised for the LRT if ma­jor changes are made.

“I’m a big sup­porter of pub­lic tran­sit and the eq­uity it brings to all Cal­gar­i­ans,” he said. “We need to cross the river, we need to go north, we need to serve north Cal­gar­i­ans as well, be­cause they de­serve faster, bet­ter mass tran­sit.”

WARD 6: JEFF DAVISON

No, un­less amend­ments are made. Davison said last week he won’t vote in favour of the Green Line align­ment as it is. This month, he’s ques­tioned the tran­sit line’s path and cost, and he’s among the group that wants to push back plans to cross the Bow River.

“Per­son­ally, I need some changes to (the rec­om­men­da­tion) be­fore I can sup­port it,” Davison said. “I think the prob­lem right now is that coun­cil doesn’t ac­tu­ally have align­ment on the rec­om­men­da­tion, and for a project that has been go­ing on for years, I find that com­pletely baf­fling.”

WARD 7: DRUH FAR­RELL

Yes.

Far­rell said she’s had con­cerns about how the cur­rent align­ment could af­fect Prince’s Is­land Park, Cres­cent Heights and Eau Claire, but she’s con­fi­dent in the work that’s been done and the work that’s still ahead to make sure the LRT fits well with those ar­eas.

WARD 8: EVAN WOOLLEY

Yes.

Woolley said at the Green Line com­mit­tee that sug­ges­tions to stop the train down­town in­stead of build­ing over the Bow River would be a “dis­ser­vice” to com­mu­ni­ties in the north.

“Imag­ine if we lose 20,000 rid­ers be­cause we wanted to cheap out and be­cause we got scared of the big com­plex­ity of this in­cred­i­ble project,” he said.

WARD 9: GIAN-CARLO CARRA

Yes.

Carra said last week he’s “very much a sup­porter” of ap­prov­ing the cur­rent vi­sion for the Green Line. At com­mit­tee, he said he “begs” coun­cil to vote in favour of it.

WARD 10: RAY JONES

Un­de­cided.

Jones said he’s “lean­ing toward yes,” but on Fri­day he was still hav­ing meet­ings to find an­swers to some lin­ger­ing ques­tions and lis­ten­ing to what his col­leagues are say­ing.

“The peo­ple in my ward are in­dif­fer­ent one way or the other whether it’s built or not,” he said, not­ing there’s al­ready LRT ser­vice in his north­east ward. “But I am get­ting a lot of calls from other wards.”

WARD 11: JEROMY FARKAS

Un­de­cided.

Farkas said he’s still wait­ing to see some in­for­ma­tion he asked for ear­lier this month about the Green Line. But he also wants the city to let Cal­gar­i­ans vote on the Green Line’s fu­ture in a plebiscite.

“There’s a lot of key in­for­ma­tion in the op­er­at­ing cost and rid­er­ship that are go­ing to im­pact my vote,” he said. “I have raised a whole lot of ques­tions around value and whether or not we should be pro­ceed­ing, in this eco­nomic cli­mate, with a project like the Green Line.”

WARD 12: SHANE KEATING

Yes.

Keating has been one of the Green Line’s big­gest cham­pi­ons for years, so his vote should be no sur­prise.

“Two elec­tions were fought on the Green Line, on tran­sit,” he said last week. “The peo­ple who are un­der­served are sup­port­ing tran­sit in ar­eas that are well served. All they’re ask­ing for is equal ser­vice across the city.”

WARD 13: DIANE COLLEYURQU­HART

Un­clear.

Col­ley-urquhart didn’t re­spond to re­quests for com­ment Thurs­day or Fri­day, but she voted against the rec­om­men­da­tions at the Green Line com­mit­tee. Last week, she joined with Davison and Suther­land to raise con­cerns about the cost of the LRT project, and she was part of their call for “a lower-risk, higher-value op­tion for the Green Line and north Cal­gary.”

But late Fri­day, Col­ley-urquhart posted to Twit­ter: “I’m vot­ing for the Green Line.” She didn’t re­spond to re­quests for com­ment on whether that meant she would sup­port the align­ment as it is or with changes.

WARD 14: PETER DEMONG

Un­clear.

Demong also didn’t re­spond to ques­tions late last week about how he planned to vote. He’s been a part of the call to hold off on the Green Line river cross­ing, and he told Post­media two weeks ago that he’s wor­ried about be­ing able to get fu­ture fund­ing for more LRT.

“If I find out that there is a def­i­nite plan go­ing for­ward, that there’s not go­ing to be a con­cern about fur­ther grants over the next 10 years com­ing from other lev­els of gov­ern­ment that will con­tinue to build the Green Line out, I think I’ll go back to the orig­i­nal (rec­om­men­da­tion),” he said at the time.

“But if this truly is the end of the money for the next 15 to 20 years, then it’s my opin­ion that we should build one solid line first.”

GAVIN YOUNG

Ctrain Green Line sup­port­ers rally out­side Cal­gary City Hall ear­lier this month. A key city coun­cil vote on the fu­ture of the project Mon­day could be close.

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