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Green Line delay doesn’t mean Centre Street improvements should stop: Crescent Heights BIA

Businesses along Centre Street North in Crescent Heights want area improvements to go on as they bide their time on the northern phase of the $5 billion Green Line.

The Crescent Heights Business Improvement Area (BIA) penned an open letter to the mayor, current councillors and future councillors to remind them that continued delays on the Green Line is having a negative impact on area businesses.

In July, the Green Line phase 1 was approved from Shepard to Eau Claire on the north side of downtown. At the time, the city said the northern phase would be decided after assessing cost escalations in phase 1.  LiveWire Calgary was first to report that could mean a lengthy delay.

Camie Leard, executive director of the Crescent Heights BIA said they’ve been in conversation with the Crescent Heights Community Association and they’re on the same page in many areas.

What they want to hear from the city is a minimum timeframe on when they expect work to begin on a north leg of the LRT. Leard said it doesn’t matter if that’s five years or 10 years, they just want to know.

“It’s just so that our core small business owners are able to plan. It’s been a real challenge,” Leard told LiveWire Calgary.

Besides that, Leard said there’s no reason the city can’t begin some of the transition that comes with the reimagining of Centre Street.  That could be the removal of the rush hour lane reversal, lowering the speed limit and enforcing noise bylaws.

“Enjoying a drink on a patio is almost impossible with the really loud motors and fast cars,” she said.

They also like to see the crossings improved and police presence in the area bumped even more.

Green Line team helping coordinate

Wendy Tynan, director of stakeholder relations for the Green Line said they’d last met with community groups in August.

They’re working with Crescent Heights stakeholders to keep them connected to city departments while north plans are on hiatus.

“Our belief is that some of this work can and should be going forward outside of Green Line, which is why we’re trying to play that connector role between the BIA and other city departments,” Tynan said.

Streetscape plans are still very conceptual for the area, Tynan said. They are trying to figure out what can be done without having to rip it up down the road.

As far as a minimum timeline, that’s unlikely, Tynan said. There are still a lot of moving parts. They need to begin work on phase 1 first. Then, they have to ascertain final phase 1 costs before considering a move north.

Coming to that point could take a few years.

Hearing the postponement of the north side was disappointing enough for area residents and businesses, Leard said. Now they just want some signal of revitalization for the area, once promised by a north segment.

“We’d like some certainty, and we’d like an interim plan,” Leard said.  

“Let’s have something that says, ‘OK, here’s when the Green Line is going to come through, we’re not going to start construction before this time, here’s what we’re going to accomplish in the meantime to get ready for it, or to set the neighbourhood up for success in case it doesn’t happen,” Leard said.