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Mayoral candidates push Green Line transparency, Banff-YYC transit

Two mayoral candidates were talking transit Tuesday – one on reaffirming a downtown Calgary stop for Banff rail service and the other with Green Line questions.

In a media release Tuesday, candidate Brad Field raised questions on Calgary’s Green Line. Field called the Green Line high fives at a recent announcement with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, “premature.”

Calgarians still have questions that must be answered before construction begins on the $5.5 billion project, he said.

“While I am a strong supporter of the Green Line and as eager as anybody to see the jobs and economic development the project will provide, I remain gravely concerned about the ballooning costs of a line that continues to provide less tracks for more bucks,” he said.

Field said incoming Green Line CEO Darshpreet Bhatti can improve trust and transparency around the project by making sure Calgarians are in the know.

He wants to know why an elevated line through downtown isn’t being considered when it could provide greater certainty in building the track north of the Bow River.  The recently approved change in staging means that the portion of the line north of Eau Claire to 16 Avenue N would only go ahead if there was money available after the Shepard to Eau Claire section was built.

Field also questioned who’s on the hook for cost overruns. He also wanted to know what will be done to boost ridership to keep operating costs in line on the southeast leg.

“I wish Mr. Bhatti great success with this important project,” said Field.

“He has the opportunity and the obligation to provide the transparency on the project that the Green Line committee and city council has failed to do,” Field said.

Airport to Banff

Also on Tuesday, Coun. Jeff Davison, who is in the running to be Calgary’s next mayor, pushed for the city to identify a potential downtown stop on a passenger transit link from YYC to Banff.

Davison pointed to a Calgary Economic Development report that said a downtown stop could generate $1.2 billion in economic impact.

“A downtown stop on the Calgary airport to Banff passenger rail project is a great way to bring new business investment and opportunity to Calgary. A downtown stop helps diversify our economy by significantly expanding our tourism industry,” Davison said in a prepared release.

“Given the impact of this project on tourism and jobs, and that the needed infrastructure is already in place in Calgary, it is absolutely vital that Calgary City Council and Administration immediately consider options for a downtown stop.”

Davison proposed a notice of motion that asked for city administration to identify a potential downtown stop. It also asked for the mayor to write a letter of support for the transit route.

The request comes on the heels of a memorandum of understanding signed between Invest Alberta Corp, Alberta Transportation and the Canada Infrastructure Bank to further development.

The notice of motion was forwarded to the next meeting of Calgary city council.