News / Calgary

Cyberbullying aside, Coun. Farkas could face difficulties on his SW BRT motion

On Monday, two-thirds of present Calgary councillors will vote need to vote yes to stall the contentious bus project

Jeromy Farkas said he wants to get back to talking about issues, instead of focusing on mud slinging. Uploaded by: Pike, Helen

Helen Pike / Metro

Jeromy Farkas said he wants to get back to talking about issues, instead of focusing on mud slinging. Uploaded by: Pike, Helen

Yielding the SW BRT to give the public more information and revisit the scope of the project may be a non-starter Monday.

This is the first notice of motion by rookie Coun. Jeromy Farkas. With the help of his Ward 13 colleague Coun. Diane Colley-Urquhart, he will ask if there's appetite to stall the bus rapid transit project's second phase while administration takes a lap to revisit a cost-benefit analysis.

At a press conference Thursday concerning BRT-related cyberbullying allegations, Farkas told reporters he would just need a majority of votes to pause the contentious project. But on Thursday as the agenda was released, clerks made it very clear: two-thirds of council has to approve.

"It's a temporary pause which can be done without impacting taxpayers," said Farkas. "If it is a reconsideration, I will have to leave the room while my motion is debated – how ridiculous is that."

Metro couldn't confirm that rule within the council procedure bylaw.

In 2016, when the project was approved, the vote was a 9 to 6 to move forward with the phased approach to the SW BRT.

On the yes side were Couns. Brian Pincott, Richard Pootmans, Jim Stevenson, Evan Woolley, Gian-Carlo Carra, Peter Demong, Druh Farrell, Shane Keating and mayor Naheed Nenshi. But three from that camp have since moved on.

Against were Couns. Ward Sutherland, Andre Chabot, Sean Chu, Diane Colley-Urquhart, Ray Jones and Joe Magliocca.

In a straw poll conducted by Metro, of the councillors who responded three were a firm no, with Coun. Shane Keating possibly adding a fourth – unless he's otherwise convinced. And from statements made by the mayor earlier this week, that's swinging toward five.

"For me, at this point in time, to reconsider council's decision – I'd have to see strong evidence," said Keating. "I'm open to hearing the debate, and I'm open to seeing if there's a specific reason, but without that, I don't see the need."

The Transportation and Transit Committee chair said he's not sure what would happen to the provincial GreenTRIP funds if the project were put on hold, and that any change in the project may require the city to return to the government for approval.

But that doesn't mean councillors won't vote on the notice of motion's items separately and opt to keep the project going while asking administration to review it and present their findings at a later date.

To top it all off, some of the new councillors were shy about sharking their vote. Coun. Jyoti Gondek said she would reveal hers at the meeting on Monday, and Couns. Jeff Davison and George Chahal both told Metro they still have a lot of studying to do before making a decision.

Coun. Peter Demong said he hadn't made a decision.

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