The City of Calgary is one step closer to beginning construction on the LRT Green Line after a funding arrangement was officially secured from the provincial and federal governments that, according to Premier Rachel Notley, was aided by the Climate Leadership Plan.

“It is a fundamentally transformational, fundamentally important investment for this city and one that really is about acknowledging where we are going in the future,” said Notley at Wednesday afternoon’s announcement. “It was important for us to lock down the funding because the City was at that point that they needed to be able to move ahead and have the agreement signed.”

Following the announcement, Mayor Naheed Nenshi said he had hoped to have the funding in place in 2018 but he still expects to have the project completed on schedule. “Now that the funding agreement is done, we will be able to go to market for procurement over the course of the next several months. We will start construction as early as 2020.”

The first stage of the Green Line will connect 16 Avenue North, near Centre Street, with the downtown core and continuing to the Shepard area in the southeast. The pledged funding will be supplied over a period of eight years.

Notley says the federal funding commitment for the project is being funnelled through the Government of Alberta. “The $3 billion that is the subject of the agreement that the province of Alberta signed with the City of Calgary represents the $1.5 (billion) from the federal government and the $1.5 (billion) from Alberta.”

According to Notley, the Government of Alberta’s contribution is funded from the carbon tax collected through the Climate Leadership Plan.

“It is from that fund that we have been able to find the money to invest in this major, major project. If that fund disappears than they will have to find the money elsewhere. (The United Conservative Party) have not actually been clear that that is what they will do. It’s been very vague.”

“If they cancel the Climate Leadership Plan and the many, many programs that are funded out of it will disappear and what we’ll end up with is a hole here in this part of Calgary as a testament to that type of ‘forward thinking’.”

On Wednesday morning, UCP leader Jason Kenney reiterated his anti-carbon tax stance following a gathering for the announcement of the Calgary Real Estate Board’s 2019 regional housing market forecast.

“I’ll let them pay the carbon tax if they want to but I’m not going to force Albertans to pay a carbon tax in heating their homes or driving their cars, running their small business, when it makes no measurable effect for the global environment,” said Kenney. “If there’s some rich CEOs for multi-national companies that love paying more taxes and think that makes their company more competitive, they’re always welcome to write a cheque to the Government of Alberta.”

Mount Royal University political scientist Lori Williams says the intention of Tuesday’s funding announcement was less about the funding amount, which was previously announced, and more about the source of the funding.

“It’s not news in a sent that this is a previously negotiated project that’s jointly funded by the federal government and the Alberta government,” said Williams. “Rachel Notley wants to remind Albertans that the funding has come directly from the Climate Leadership Plan and specifically the carbon tax.”

According to the province, Stage 1 of the Green Line is expected to created more than 12,000 direct jobs and an additional 8,000 jobs in supporting industries including engineering, planning and administration.

With files from CTV’s Stephanie Wiebe