Green Line transit still short on Alberta government cash
Calgary has firmed up its 1/3 portion of the nearly $5 billion public transit line and the feds have agreed to their share, but nothing yet from the Alberta NDP
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For the Government of Alberta, the Green Line funding struggle is real.
Just a week after councillors approved in principle an expensive downtown LRT alignment, one order of government is still dragging their feet on a commitment to help fund the infrastructure mammoth.
But Calgary's mayor has another Green Line issue on his mind.
So far, the City of Calgary has only secured its own share, $1.53 billion to be collected over the next 30 years. From the federal government, the dollars and cents of how they will deliver on their $1.5 billion promise towards the coveted project – but the province? Crickets.
“It’s certainly our intention to try and find a way to do as many of these key projects as possible, given the fact that the financial position of the province has worsened since we announced our infrastructure program,” said Alberta Transportation Minister Brian Mason.
“It’s a struggle to pay for very expensive infrastructure programs, which every municipality wants, by the way, in these difficult financial times.”
Mason continued to say the only way the province will be able to pay for a project like the Green Line, would be to commit funds over a number of years, and that financial work still is on the way.
But Mayor Naheed Nenshi said all the city is looking for is a commitment, like the feds have given, which would help the city continue to work towards a shovel-ready LRT line.
“We’re trying to look at cash flows that make sense, and funding over time,” said Nenshi. “I don’t think any of us are saying: ‘Give us a few billion dollars in a cheque I can deposit at the teller today.’”
Instead of an October deadline for the province’s response, the mayor is now suggesting a few weeks won’t harm the project – he’s still not worried about the province’s funding portion.
Coun. Shane Keating said he’s expecting an answer by December. If it doesn’t come, he has some harsh words for the province.
“My concern is that if they can’t get their act together enough to understand funding the Green Line is one of the best things they can do as a government, then we have great difficulty with their decision making,” said Keating.
But Nenshi has a growing concern over the Green Line’s unknown cost.
“The money matters very much,” said Nenshi. “My nervousness is caused by what the total budget is, including financing, and what we can build with that.
"If you think about the fact that council approved a $2 billion dollar tunnel...and we don’t know the numbers for the rest of it, you can understand why I’m sweating a little bit.”