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Alberta approves Calgary’s Green Line business case, feds confirm funding

Alberta has given the green light to the Green Line, approving the business case submitted to the province May 28, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said construction will begin this fall.

The province made their announcement Wednesday afternoon, just prior to a scheduled Green Line announcement with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi.

In an afternoon media event, Prime Minister Trudeau said their commitment would help construction begin this fall in the Beltline and the Downtown.

“It means a faster, cheaper commute. No one wants to waste time and money idling in traffic. This will help you get you home to the kids, sooner. Instead of stuck in traffic,” PM Trudeau said.

The mayor said it’s a historic announcement in funding from the province and the federal government.

“You’ve heard me say for many, many, many years that investments in transit are among the best investments any government can make,” Mayor Nenshi said.

“They’re investments in climate, they’re investments in the environment, they’re investments in social mobility, they’re investments and quality of life.”

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi at the Green Line announcement July 7, 2021. SPENCER YU / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

Clear track ahead

The provincial announcement was one of the last remaining hurdles to moving ahead with the project, which has been held in station since December 2020, when the city said procurement was paused. It’s been in provincial hands for review for more than a year.

In that time, Calgary and the province have hammered out differences in the delivery of the $5 billion Green Line project.

“Alberta’s $1.53-billion commitment toward the Green Line is a massive investment in the future of Calgary, one we are happy to make because we believe our best days are ahead of us,” said Alberta Transportation Minister Ric McIver.  

“I’m grateful for the hard work done by the technical experts at the province and the city to make the Green Line a functional project that connects to the rest of the LRT network. I am confident that the Green Line is in a stronger, more certain position today, and is in the capable hands of an experienced project team that can take this important project forward.”

One of the major changes to the project was in the staged delivery. This was changed earlier this year with it shifting to a two-phased construction, rather than three phases. Phase one is from Shepard to Eau Claire. Phase two is from Eau Claire north to 16 Avenue.

PM Trudeau said that the would be working with the province and the city to ensure the line continued north to 16 Avenue.

11 long years

Calgary city councillors and the mayor gathered with the Prime Minister at the Green Line announcement on July 7, 2021. SPENCER YU / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

Coun. Shane Keating was the one who introduced the attendees at Wednesday’s conference. Keating has been the project’s biggest champion from the start.

He told the Green Line story from the start – a southeast transitway (SETWAY) plan, to using provincial tax room right through to the June 2020 approval.

He talked about the direction he set by defeating a set of city recommendations back in 2010 with his own plan – a functional planning study for the Green Line.

“The City of Calgary realized that there was a new transit sheriff in town,” Keating said.

“Eleven years ago, my hair was much darker, my midsection was much smaller and the Green Line was a mere twinkle in my eye.”

Keating said the $52 million in annual tax room was the real catalyst to move the project forward.

“As for myself, the self-proclaimed godfather of the Green Line, the $52 million offer was something that no one could not agree with,” Keating said.

“It was the best decision I ever made.”

LRT on the Green president Jeff Binks was also at the federal announcement. Binks’ has been a staunch advocate of the Green Line LRT since the plan was first conceptualized.

Binks said they would take time to savour the moment. Then set sights on what’s ahead.

“We’re going to take a day to celebrate and then we are going to make sure that the project is built and that shovels get in the ground as soon as possible,” Binks said.

“We’re going to make sure that it’s built right because Calgarians want to make sure that this project matches the vision that they were promised.”

  • with files from Spencer Yu