Calgary council to entertain adding $23.7 million of tax room to Green Line pot
Green Line completion is something Coun. Shane Keating wants to deal with right out of the gate
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What's the next stop for the Green Line?
One councillor is hoping for a commitment from all of his colleagues to get the project fully funded, driving in a stake to other orders of government to follow suit.
Coun. Shane Keating is working on a notice of motion to lump an extra $23.7 million in tax room into the city's committed $52 million over the remainder – now less than 30 years – to add more than $750 million to the pot.
"We do know that there will be further funding for transit coming from the federal and provincial government," said Keating. "We'll use this as a method to continue the forward motion of buying land in the north and continue to the south."
Keating said if all orders of government stepped up to match this new commitment the city would have an extra $2.5 billion it needs to complete the project.
"We put our stake in the ground on phase 1," he said. "I believe we will get more length out of stage one than was planned ... we have to plan for the future and the only way we can do that is by setting aside our portion of the funds."
Jeff Binks from LRT on the Green Foundation said the province's announcement of $1.53 billion over eight years meant the city wouldn't have to spend the $23.7 million on financing costs, so it would only make sense to spend that money to get the Green Line going further.
"We hope one of the first priorities will be to dedicate it to land acquisition along the Green Line north corridor," said Binks.
He said in the spring he learned the land acquisition process would take three years, but it hasn't been funded.
Originally, the LRT project was envisioned as a 40-kilometre line from north to south, but cost escalations in the centre-city portion after extensive community consultation meant the city would only be able to build 20 kilometres for $4.65 billion instead of $4.5 billion.
"Obviously cost is a concern," said Binks. "Especially with the current economic climate in the city ... although the cost has increased Calgarians are aware of that and came out during the election and said quite forcefully that the Green Line is a project they want to see in the city and want to see completed."