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Calgary Green Line: Let’s move on segment 1, says Coun. Keating

Coun. Shane Keating wishes the province would just come out and say what they want on Calgary’s Green Line.

As he mentioned when LiveWire Calgary was first to break the story on the Green Line delay, this latest development is solely on the province’s shoulders.

Procurement on the $5 billion transit megaproject was paused for at least the next three months as the city and province hammer out remaining details around “due diligence” for the project.

The big problem Keating has is the province won’t wiggle on approval for segment one. That’s the southernmost section from Shepard to the Elbow River.

Prep work has been ongoing along that stretch for more than two years. It’s open field, above-ground track – they kind they’ve laid for decades across the city. It’s the kind laid when Minister McIver was a Calgary city councillor and the West LRT line was built.

“Whatever the issues are with rest of the Green Line, in essence have nothing to do with the construction of that section of the Green Line,” Keating told LiveWire Calgary.

“There, there have been verification of the city’s costs. There have been external, completely independent verification of the city’s cost. They’re not that much different. So, whatever the province concerns are with that section, I will never understand.”

According to Mckenzie Kibler, press secretary to Alberta Transportation Minister Ric McIver, the city knows what the province wants to see. (Three requests have been made to arrange telephone interviews with Minister McIver. Those requests have not been acknowledged.)

“In addition to the original letter sent by Minister McIver, Alberta Transportation officials have communicated specific items directly to the City of Calgary in regular meetings,” Kibler wrote.

“The consultant hired to write the review engaged directly with the City’s project team months ago.”

Do they or don’t they?

In a year end interview with Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, done just prior to news of the Green Line pause, he said any potential change with the Green Line’s current iteration would require a 10 vote reconsideration. Given that it was 14-1 for the current plans, he doubted if any change would get support.

“Ultimately, the province needs to determine how much they’re on board,” Nenshi said.

“They’ve said many, many times that they’re in favour of building the Green Line, and it’s important to them. So, they need to actually back that up with a cheque right now.”

In a statement, Alberta Transportation once again reiterated their support for the project.

“Alberta’s government remains committed to the $1.53 billion it has pledged for the Green Line,” Kibler wrote.

The RFP for segment one went out in July of this year. It was expected a final contract would be selected in the early summer, with work beginning in the fall.

The city said that procurement for the Light Rail Vehicles (LRVs) is still ongoing, as is work on the segment 2 functional planning study.

Three segments for the Green Line

Keating said one of the reasons why the project is being split into three segments – Shepard to the Elbow River, the downtown portion, and the north portion – is to continue work to make sure it’s done right.

“If they’re concerned about north of Elbow River, have at it, because we’re that’s what we’re doing. We’re doing (the work) to make sure that we’re going to end up doing it the right way,” Keating said.

Green Line costs for Stage 1. (CITY OF CALGARY)

He said it’s “ludicrous” to think there won’t be enough money to get through the downtown with the current plan. The segment one costs have gone through the wringer – and then some.

“I have no respect for any indication that we have concerns about funds, because, again, it has been verified,” said Keating.

“They asked someone to verify the city figures, and then they hired a totally independent verification, which came fairly close to what we had. So, it’s been done and done by experts and experts upon experts – not by politicians in Edmonton.

“I wish they would just come out and say this is what we want.”