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Mayor Nenshi hopeful Calgary Green Line will have 2021 start

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said he sure hopes the province isn’t trying to delay Calgary’s Green Line LRT project.

The mayor responded to questions on the $5 billion transit project Wednesday, a day after Alberta Transportation Minister Ric McIver denied reports he wanted to push Green Line work off until after Calgary’s 2021 municipal election.

It was suggested that it might mean a more pro-Kenney city council and the project could be shelved.

In October, the province reaffirmed the funding, but a letter from Minister McIver outlined key areas of concern that came up in a review of the project.

“As I said in the past, the province told us they were going to do a quick analysis, to make sure they were comfortable with the procurement,” Mayor Nenshi said.

“That quick short analysis is on to its sixth or seventh month. And I sure hope the government of Alberta isn’t dragging the puck on this. I sure hope they’re not trying to delay this project because we need those jobs, we need that investment.”

Mayor Nenshi said the original plan was to award the contract in mid-to-late summer of 2021. Construction would start later that fall.

“It’s already been a bit delayed with the province’s analysis that they’re working on, which, by the way, the city has not seen,” the mayor said.

In a prior story, the province said that both parties agreed not to have the review shared publicly as it contained commercially sensitive information during an ongoing procurement process.

Fear of political gamesmanship

Ward 9 Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra, whose area will see a fair chunk of the new Green Line, said there’s two lines of thought on this. One, the province is doing due diligence, the other that their due diligence is over the top because of political gamesmanship.

“Hopefully if there’s political gamesmanship taking place, it takes a backseat to the real politics of what citizens want and the real needs of the City of Calgary right now,” he said.

Carra said he’s sympathetic to the province’s fiscal situation. He understands why they might want to hold the purse strings tighter. The lagging economy, COVID-19 and low oil prices.

“Given the fiscal situation we’re all in, I think we need to get that money flowing to create those jobs and to create that economic stimulation,” Carra said.

“The Green Line is the backbone of Calgary’s best future.”

The mayor said it would be 12,000 jobs related to the construction of the Green Line.

He still hopeful it will move forward in 2020. He said 67 per cent of the funding is in place. They’re just waiting on the province.

“If we have to figure out an alternative to make this move quickly, we’re going to have to work on that,” Mayor Nenshi said.