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Province’s Bill 20 gives Alberta power to ‘terminate’ Calgary’s Green Line LRT grant agreement

Alberta can amend any term or condition of Calgary’s Green Line grant agreement  – or terminate it altogether – in a new bill before MLAs.

That has one transit advocacy group sounding the alarm on the amount of risk now being carried by the City of Calgary.

In the Bill 20 omnibus legislation, beginning on page 182, it outlines the changes to the transit deals. Notably, the ability for the minister to make amendments to the agreement or requiring ministerial permission for any substantial changes to the project.

“The Lieutenant Governor in Council may, by order, with a minimum of 90 days’ notice to the City of Calgary, terminate the grant agreement without cause,” the bill reads.

In the Alberta budget earlier this month, the province changed the payout schedule for the Green Line LRT project, delaying their committed $1.5 billion to 2023 and beyond.

Jeff Binks, president of the group LRT on the Green said these changes make him wonder if the city can trust the province to follow through on its funding agreement.

“Our new provincial government has stated repeatedly that they are committed to building the Green Line LRT however the delay to a sizeable amount of funding for the project has raised some doubt,” said Jeff Binks, president of LRT on the Green.

“Premier Kenney gave life to the Green Line with the funding he announced while he was a federal cabinet minister and Minister McIver has been a supporter of this project throughout his time in government. If that commitment remains solid we must ask why language was included in Bill 20 that helps push this project towards a cliff?”

Calgary city councillor Joe Magliocca, however, said he’s not worried about the clause at all.

“You know what, we just have to have a provision in there that we deal with the money appropriately, not just to go out there and do what we want to do with it,” Magliocca said.

“It’s put in there to make sure (the money) is put to good use.”

More funding clarity needed for Green Line: Binks

The city is expected to meet with provincial officials this week to discuss the finer details of Green Line LRT funding, in the midst of the city dealing with cuts to Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) funding and an increase in the province’s take of property tax collection.

With such an important project’s future hanging in the balance, Binks said Calgarians need more clarity.

“Calgarians deserve answers on why this language exists and need to see concrete actions that demonstrate this government’s support for Green Line” concluded Binks.