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Calgary Green Line: Where do mayoral candidates stand?

Though Calgary city councillors have already approved the $5.5 billion Green Line, there’s still uncertainty on the construction timeline.

The province has yet to give final approval for the project and mayoral candidate Jyoti Gondek is putting the issue on the table in advance of Calgary’s municipal election.  She issued a media release on the topic Wednesday morning.

Among mayoral candidates, a pale line has emerged between those who support and those who have concerns with the current Green Line plan.

Gondek, who was also vice chair of the city’s Green Line committee, said she hoped that in Thursday’s provincial budget Calgary would get some sort of confirmation that the Green Line would stay on track. What’s concerning to her is the signal the delay sends to those contractors willing to bid on the transportation megaproject.

The city had to pause purchasing on project because of the provincial delay

“We’ve got a sector of our economy that desperately needs to get to work on a project that three orders of government agreed on two years ago,” Gondek said.

“We’ve got to get moving with this.”

She said the 17 risk management recommendations the city put forward last summer address the province’s concerns and it’s time to move ahead.

When asked Wednesday if the Green Line funding commitment would remain in the Alberta budget, the province’s transportation ministry press secretary, Mckenzie Kibler, said the province’s stance hasn’t changed.

“I can’t comment on any(thing) related to the budget before it is released. Nevertheless, the province remains firmly committed to providing $1.53 billion to fund the Green Line LRT,” Kibler wrote in an email response.

Bigger Calgary election issue?

Fellow mayoral contender Jeromy Farkas said he couldn’t respond directly to Gondek’s push for the Green Line to move ahead because he hadn’t seen it.

Farkas did say, however, that Calgarians continue to have concerns about the project viability.

“I think that Calgarians are owed answers in terms of whether or not this council can actually execute on the plan,” he told LiveWire Calgary on Wednesday.

“It’s a great plan if it can be built for the cost that’s proposed. However, there’s a lot of uncertainty around the technical portion. I think that it’s fair to be able to question that.”

Farkas said at $5.5 billion dollars, there’s a responsibility to ensure due diligence is exercised.

The Green Line question has been asked of some of Calgary’s other mayoral challengers and here’s where they stand:

Brad Field: Field said he has questions about the way the plan and decision came about. Still, he’s a supporter of world-class transportation infrastructure in Calgary. He said of the decision, that he’s not going to “turn the clock back.” From here he’d want to make sure the project is done in a cost-effective manner.

Grace Yan: In a recent interview with LiveWire Calgary, Yan said she wasn’t convinced the current Green Line plan was going to be effective in moving citizens. She, too, supports effective transportation in Calgary, but being efficient for riders and cost effective was important.

Zane Novak: Again, Novak supports strong transportation infrastructure. Novak said he’s concerned the current alignment doesn’t properly reach important commuter catch basins. He wants it to go further south and is concerned about the potential cost of going north. Novak believes the project warrants further review.