Residents in north Calgary said the decision to run with a surface Green Line LRT alignment could further disrupt what’s become a split neighbourhood.
The city’s Green Line committee was presented with the latest iteration of the Green Line alignment Tuesday, showing the Centre Street North portion at the surface instead of underground.
It’s something Jim Cunningham, a resident of Crescent Heights, said others in his area fought against throughout the project’s consultation process.
“The transit planners, who ultimately endorsed the idea of a tunnel in Crescent Heights, have basically sold us a bill of goods with this — or if you prefer, they’ve taken us for a ride on this — and we’re right back collectively where we said we didn’t want to be,” said Cunningham, a 42-year resident of Crescent Heights.
“We’ve gone all the way back to the beginning, which makes the consultation, all the efforts that went in (and) all of the time, has turned out to be worthless, basically.”
Cunningham said the surface LRT line not only congested a busy thoroughfare but also presented a danger to pedestrians in the area and further splitting the community apart.
“Centre Street right now represents a barrier of sorts within the community,” he said.
“It can be very hard to get across for people in the community who want to enjoy the whole community. Because we are a real inner-city community… and there’s a lot of pedestrian traffic. At times, you can take your own life into your hands in a marked pedestrian crosswalk.”
Details after public consultation, admin work are critical, said Coun. Farrell
His concerns were echoed by area Coun. Druh Farrell, who told LiveWire Calgary on Wednesday how critical it was to see the details.
“I have a number of concerns about the proposal and the devil is really in the details and we haven’t seen those yet,” said Farrell.
“Some of the concerns we have are, are we splitting the community even further? Because Centre Street is impermeable — it’s not particularly safe to cross. Are we making it worse, or better?”
Farrell was concerned that they’d be taking an already confined space and packing it even tighter.
“The whole area from 16 Avenue down to the downtown along Centre Street is transit-oriented development… so the last thing we want to do is make the street less viable.”
Kirstin Blair, president of the Crescent Heights Community Association, said Wednesday that she’s hopeful there will be more consultation on the project.
“This is, I think, really challenging as a volunteer organization that’s really committed to doing our best to engage residents and understand what the people of Crescent Heights think about this,” she said.
“I don’t think there’s any consensus among residents… however, I think in all the previous engagement that has happened, people were clear they wanted it to be underground. Any deviation from that original plan to keep it underground needs extensive consultation in our community for what it should look like now.”
– with files from Darren Krause