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‘Dealbreaker’: Lack of consideration for Centre Street biz, streetscape, says Coun. Farrell

Businesses and streetscapes along Centre Street North aren’t being considered with the latest Green Line alignment, said a Calgary city councillor.

The lack of consideration, Ward 7 Coun. Druh Farrell said, is a “dealbreaker” for her when it comes to discussions about the $5 billion Calgary mega-project.

“That has always been the expectation for the community. They’ve been engaging for many years and that was one of the founding principles that Crescent Heights would become a great street,” said Farrell, who also sits on the city’s Green Line committee.

“What is proposed right now… I think would kill Centre Street, kill the businesses. What’s proposed is a complete removal of on-street parking, as well as the removal of the public realm.

“These are deal breakers for me.”

The city’s Green Line committee presented the latest iteration of a potential alignment for the LRT on Tuesday. It showed a surface line running along Centre Street North, instead of underground.

This move has residents of Crescent Heights concerned because the corridor is a major artery for traffic for both cars and pedestrians.

Farrell, meanwhile, said the area, already dangerous for pedestrians, could become more difficult to navigate should streetscapes not be considered.

“We would see that getting worse, not better, under the current proposal,” she said, adding that even up to a few weeks ago they were shown images of tree-lined streets and wider sidewalks.

“There would be fewer lanes to cross the street and would effectively separate the east and west of Crescent Heights.”

It was supposed to be an area to go to, not go through, said Farrell.

“The whole objective behind the Green Line when we first started this project, it wasn’t going to be just a commuter rail and more. It was going to be a city building, city-shaping facility,” she said.

Must be a stop for visitors: Biz owners

Gord Hobbins, owner of Gord’s Running Store along Centre Street North, and a board member for the community’s newly-minted business improvement area (BIA), said there are pros and cons to a surface LRT but hopes the city will improve the streetscapes.

“I think it would be a pro in the long run,” he said, adding his hope is the area could turn into a stop along the way for visitors.

“There’s not a lot about the drive (up Centre Street) that’s going to stimulate them to the fact that says ‘wow, I got to come back and take a look at that.’”

Kirstin Blair, president of the Crescent Heights Community Association, said people in the area want the Green Line to bring the community together.

“If it’s not done correctly it could be something that further divides the community and people are concerned about that. People really want the Green Line to be something that will bring the community together, not divide it further,” she said.

“I would say support for the surface line is contingent on them making streetscape improvements and doing things to make Centre Street something that brings our community together.”