Conservative pledge on Calgary Green Line LRT misinformed, mayor says

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi says the federal Conservative Party is mistaken in blaming the federal government for delaying construction of the Green Line LRT project.

On Wednesday, the Conservative Party of Canada committed itself to funding the entire Green Line if the party forms the next federal government. 

The party said that the project has ballooned in price and been reduced in size because of inaction by the Trudeau government.

In a statement, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole says a Conservative government will provide federal funding to the next Calgary city council as long as the project serves communities in the north and south, is completed in its entirety in a reasonable amount of time and receives provincial approval.

But Nenshi says it’s incorrect to claim there have been any federal delays on the Green Line.

“I am non-partisan. I don’t know who I’m going to vote for in this federal election, but I will tell you unequivocally that the federal government — the previous Harper government and the Trudeau government — were in no way the cause of any delays on this project,” he said.

“That is all the Government of Alberta. It is all Premier Kenney. And to make aspersions otherwise is simply not true.”

Construction of the new LRT line was supposed to begin this year, but the province indicated last December it was unhappy with the way the procurement strategy for the project was structured and forced a pause on construction while it reevaluated the city’s plan.

Alberta Transportation Minister Ric McIver referred to the project as a “train line to nowhere” because of the plan to build it in segments, beginning with the stretch from Shepard in the southeast up to Inglewood/Ramsay.

In June of this year, the city and the province ironed out a new plan that will instead see the Green Line’s southern leg — from Shepard to downtown — built all at once.

Nenshi said O’Toole has not consulted with city officials on the party’s Green Line commitment.  

“I would probably get facts before starting to talk about things I didn’t know anything about,” he said.

The cost to build the Green Line from Shepard to Eau Claire is estimated at $5.5. billion, with funding split among the three levels of government.

Nenshi estimates completing the entire Green Line — from Seton in the southeast to North Pointe — could cost an additional $7 billion. He said it’s unclear to him if the Conservatives realize that.

“So if they’re actually saying they will fund all of it, all at once, sure I’ll take it. But that’s not what that press release said to me,” he said.

This map shows the revised alignment of Calgary’s Green Line LRT, with proposed future extensions through north Calgary. (City of Calgary)

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