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Green Line committee pushes discussion to new year as it opts to hold public hearing
CALGARY -- A City of Calgary committee for the Green Line LRT project was expected to discuss new alignment options through the downtown core Tuesday morning, but instead voted in favour of holding a public hearing.
Committee members voted 5-4 in favour of allowing Calgarians to voice their concerns.
Administration was originally scheduled to provide three options for a recommended alignment on the first stage of the Green Line, but those plans weren’t made available. Instead, administration will report back on March 20 of next year with new information.
"Today’s meeting was going to be the trailer for the movie," said Coun. Shane Keating, who chairs of the Green Line committee.
"I’m certainly not happy that we’re at this stage — Christmas is coming, so is the Green Line, and the question is when?"
Keating added he ultimately understood the rationale for the delay. The Green Line committee will now have a closed-door workshop session in January where it will have a broad discussion about alignment options, including some stakeholder engagement to follow.
Committee members are also expected to discuss how to reduce the $4.9-billion price tag of the entire project before a final downtown alignment recommendation is presented in March.
The delay on project specs is something Guy Huntingford, director of strategic initiatives for NAIOP (the commercial real estate development association) in Calgary, also supports.
Huntingford spoke in council chambers about the importance of getting the project right the first time around.
"It’s desperately important for us to take, for example, another three to six months. when this project is going to be something that defines the city for another century is not an unreasonable request,
"For the people we represent, many of them have huge assets in the downtown core with buildings with hundreds of millions of dollars and when you think about it, if those assets start to devalue that actually hurts the city because the property taxes that come from those buildings drop," he said.
Route ridership impacts
Committee members also heard a presentation at Tuesday’s meeting from city general manager Michael Thompson regarding the impacts of scaling back the Green Line LRT project.
His presentation suggested if the southern leg of the train doesn’t cross the CP tracks and go right into the downtown, then ridership could decrease by 50 per cent.
Thompson said not connecting the north end could result in a 10 per cent ridership decrease.
The routes are not yet finalized, but an updated route could potentially see the proposed downtown tunnel reduced from four kilometres to 2.2 kilometres.
There are also potential options in the works for a shallow underground LRT Station and a bridge over the Bow River.