Green Line leaving northern residents behind: Advocates
As Stage 1 races to the starting line some are asking why the Green Line north leg plans are lagging behind
|Report an Error|
Share via Email
While the Green Line speeds ahead in Stage 1, advocates say it's leaving some residents at the station, waiting for answers.
On Thursday, administrators gave the Transportation and Transit council committee an update on the city's Green Line work, which has been going full steam ahead for the initial stage. But other parts of the project are falling behind, and grassroots advocates and residents are concerned.
"There is still no indication of which phase the north will be in, and I think everybody knows that a project that is unfunded, or a phase that's unfunded is really kind of just a hope or a dream," said Elise Bieche, president of the Highland Park Community Association. "It's not tangible."
She said in the meantime communities like Highland Park are in limbo because they have no concrete answers for when or what is coming. The way Bieche sees it, developers don't know whether to invest in the area, and their portion of Centre Street is falling into "disrepair."
"We look at the Green Line as an opportunity not just to serve not just as a transit project but also as an opportunity to rehabilitate and restore the corridor," Bieche said.
Coun. Shane Keating said council has to make a decision on the facts and figures, and that's what they need to look at now to get the job done.
"You have to balance the cost of the line, the cost of the land, the ridership, you have to talk about what the other aspects are, how does it help the community – does it take the cars off the road," said Keating. "Without a complete study you don't know."
And that study, which would look into a plan for the remaining Green Line phases is coming, but not as fast as advocacy group LRT On the Green (LRTOTG) had hoped.
"My personal interpretation of (council direction) was that we'd be seeing staging recommendations now and not in the last quarter of 2018," said LRTOTG president Jeff Binks. "If the Green Line is to be expanded beyond Stage 1 soon after 2026, funding commitments by other orders of government will need to be made during the 2019 to 2023 provincial and federal terms."
Keating said this is the first time he's seen federal and provincial governments investing so strongly in transportation infrastructure but what needs to happen now is work on the government funding for the next phase.
"All of us, myself included, should still be advocating for future phases," said Keating.
The Green Line is the city's largest infrastructure undertaking that will see a new CTrain bring transit from the very north to south points of the city. Last year, councillors approved the first section of the LRT line known as Stage 1. A shortened version coming in at 20 kilometres of the overall project which, once completed, will span more than 40 kilometres of rail.
The city's documents show that the north leg of the Green Line presents its own complications, including costly land acquisitions. In total, there are 300 parcels of land the city believes they need to create a Green Line right of way – and those discussions haven't even started yet.
Then, there's the issue of a lagging design plan for the north. Binks said the impression his group, and Calgarians were left with was that the design work for the left out leg would continue after a decision was made on the Green Line plan in June – but that design work is only beginning now and, he says, won't be complete until the second quarter of 2019.