Feel good about your information and become a local news champion today

Mayor Gondek hopeful Alberta matches feds’ transit cash

Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek said she’s looking forward to seeing matching provincial funds come through to assist with a fledgling Covid-19 Calgary Transit fare box.

On Thursday in the House of Commons, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Chrystia Freeland, announced a one-time $750 million boost in operating cash to Canadian transit systems. It also comes with a connection to affordable housing. The federal cash is contingent on matching provincial funds.

Transit operations across Canada have taken a massive hit over the past two-plus years as people worked from home. In Calgary, ridership is currently about 38 per cent of pre-pandemic numbers.

In a recent RouteAhead update at Calgary committee, councillors heard that revenue was short $93 million in 2020. It’s an estimated $106 million for 2021.

According to the city, there’s an expected revenue shortfall of up to $89 million in 2022. That’s if ridership reaches a low-end estimate of 60 per cent of pre-pandemic levels. They’re hoping for a high end of 75 per cent recovery. Admin expects that cost avoidance measures can pare that loss by $33 million.

“Calgary Transit’s deficit in 2020 and 2021 was covered by provincial and federal government support. However, there were no guarantees of continued support in 2022,” Calgary Transit acting manager Misty Sklar told councillors at that meeting.

Mayor Gondek, at an announcement on a new Glenbow Museum endowment Thursday, said she was eager to continue work with both orders of government on the transit cash.

“I’m looking forward to seeing what our provincial partners are able to do to match those federal dollars. All types of funding are needed here in our city,” the mayor said.

The mayor said she hadn’t been able to talk with the province about a potential fund match yet.

Late Thursday, the province said they hadn’t been consulted prior to the transit announcement.

“We were not consulted on this announcement and have received no direct details on the program. We first heard about it this afternoon when it was announced,” said Greg Smith, Chief of Staff to Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver.

“When the federal government sends us some in-depth and detailed information, we will be able to review it then.”