More green for Green Line: Calgary councillors commit to $1.56B over 30 years
Coun. Shane Keating's motion to extend the $52 million in provincial “tax room” from a 10 year commitment to 30 years was approved in council Monday
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Two financial commitments down and one to go as the Green Line inched toward full funding after Monday's Calgary city council meeting.
Councillors opted to commit $1.56 billion towards the Green Line LRT project – a move advocates are applauding as it doesn't increase taxes for Calgarians.
A motion put forward by Coun. Shane Keating to extend the $52 million in provincial “tax room” from a 10 year commitment to 30 years as a way to help fund the Green Line project was approved in council Monday. Attached to his motion Couns. Gian-Carlo Carra, Evan Woolley, Druh Farrell, Sean Chu, Jim Stevenson, Peter Demong, Diane Colley-Urquhart, Brian Pincott and Mayor Nenshi threw in their support.
Jeff Binks, president of LRT on the Green foundation, said this is the best gift councillors could have offered Calgarians.
"We now have an extra one billion dollars in commitment to the largest public transit project that Calgarians have ever seen," said Binks.
So far the Green Line, which is a proposed LRT line from north-central Calgary to the deep southeast, has a pot of $580 million over 10 years from the city, as well as a commitment from the previous federal government of $1.5 billion dollars. With a budget between $4.5 and $5 billion dollars the city still needs provincial investment as well as a solution to fulfill the city's share of funding.
As it turns out, the provincial funding could make or break Green Line plans. Depending on how much financial support the city can raise, if funding from the province doesn't come through, the federal amount promised could falter.
"The crucial thing is that if we don't commit this $1.5 billion we realize that the federal contribution drops extremely because their commitment is for one third of the project," Keating said. "If the province, which is not a wise move, doesn't come on board we could have the $1.5 billion from the city and depending on the price, we would only get 500 million or 700 million from the feds. It's absolutely ludicrous for us to walk away from $1.5 in additional funding."
This investment brings the city's portion up to $1.56 billion dollars – a third of the entire project cost over 30 years.
Although a large number of councillors and the mayor were supportive, some weren't ready to stand behind the 30-year investment.
But Keating noted it's important to keep the conversation about Green Line and funding in the facts.
"When you look at all of the stats, all of the information out there, this is the only thing we should be doing," he said.