A Calgary councillor said his request to Alberta provincial political parties to commit to Green Line funding has gone unanswered, but he thinks his point has been made.
On Thursday, Coun. Shane Keating led a call from eight city councillors that called for predictable and stable funding to complete the entire Green Line.
The letter posed the straightforward question: Will you advocate for and honour the commitment in legislation by the current government to dedicate approximately $200M annually (starting in 2027) for public transit in Calgary?
“I’ve had no response from the political parties and I didn’t really expect any,” said Keating.
He said in the final days of the campaign, that’s not a surprise. His ask was more about making a point about the importance of the entire Green Line.
“There was a letter previously led by Michelle Rempel,” said Keating. “It targeted that we should only be looking at one section of the Green Line.”
On April 8, Rempel put out a press release co-signed by north Calgary councillors Jyoti Gondek, Sean Chu, and Joe Magliocca asking parties to clarify their position on the north-central Green Line.
But Keating feels that letter missed the point.
“My response to that was, no, we have to continually stay away from that mentality,” said Keating. “We have to work in unison and the letter that I have, it talked about both north and south.”
What Keating wants to see is an annual commitment from the province of 400 million starting in around 2026 or 2027 for transit funding. He said Edmonton would get half of that, but it would give the city money to leverage funding and grants from the federal government, and from city funds to pay for the rest of the Green Line.
The Green Line was originally pitched to Calgarians as a single project that would run from 160 Avenue North to Seton in the deep south. However as funding was secured and plans became more clear, there was only enough funding to do one stage of the line, starting at 16 Avenue in the north and running to the originally-planned southern terminus.
Residents in North Central Calgary – which already has a larger population of established communities – have expressed concern that they were forgotten in the negotiations. Keating disagrees.
“I wanted to counter act this notion that the north was short changed or the decisions were bad,” said Keating. “I wanted to say, ‘no, you may not like the process, you may not like the final decision, but it wasn’t a decision that was hastily put together.'”
He noted that his letter was signed by more councillors, including Gondek, who also signed Rempel’s letter.
“She’s the far north and I’m the far south,” said Keating. If we can come together and continue to work on the advocacy of finishing the Green Line in totality, that’s where we should be at, rather than we should do this or we should do that.”
The co-signers on Keating’s letter were Diane Colley-Urquhart, Druh Farrell, Evan Woolley, Gian-Carlo Carra, Peter Demong, Ray Jones, Jyoti Gondek, and Jeff Binks, president of LRT on the Green, as well as several community associations.