Calgary

Calgarians get more time for input on Green Line route changes

One city councillor has convinced her colleagues to give Calgarians more time to have their say on proposed changes to the Green Line LRT route.

Coun. Druh Farrell says proposed revisions were being rushed

An artist's rendering of a ground-level station on the Green Line LRT. (City of Calgary)

One city councillor has convinced her colleagues to give Calgarians more time to have their say on proposed changes to the Green Line.

In January, the city revealed plans to shorten the LRT tunnel through the core to help the project stay on budget.

As a result, the revised plan for the first stage of the Green Line calls for a bridge over the Bow River between downtown and Crescent Heights. The CTrain would also have to run on the surface of Centre Street, north to 16th Avenue.

Coun. Druh Farrell says the plan had caused huge anxiety in her ward, and she wants more public engagement as another month isn't enough time. 

Farrell says Centre Street is a constrained space and the city has to get the design right.

"Some of the early drawings that I've seen are more promising, but initially, they were really frightening," Farrell said. "I can't possibly support something that will kill a neighbourhood."

Friday's committee meeting was supposed to be a regular quarterly update on the $4.9-billion megaproject.

Despite the delay, the project's director, Michael Thompson, says adding a month to the engagement won't add to the time crunch.

"We'll actually stay on the schedule that we had coming into this meeting as what we have coming out of this meeting," Thompson said. "So I think it was a great compromise to add more time for additional engagement with the communities."

Preparation work

The committee did hear that $209 million has now been spent on land acquisition. Almost all of the land that's needed in the southeast is now owned by the city.

Including preparation work like utilities realignment along the southeast portion of the line, a total of $524 million has been spent on the Green Line.

The committee also heard that the entire project is six to seven months behind schedule.

However, a technical and risk committee that was set up to advise the Green Line team says that with changes, the project can get back on track.

As proposed in January, the new downtown Green Line tunnel has been shortened and the number of underground stations has been reduced by one. (Scott Dippell/CBC)

There have been months of wrangling over the route and financing of the LRT project.

At one point in the meeting, Coun. Jeff Davison asked Thompson if he feels he has a clear definition from council on what success will look like for the Green Line.

"The answer is no," he replied. "We don't have clearly defined success criteria from this committee or from council."  

With the additional engagement time, Thompson says the results of the consultation will go to council's Green Line committee in April instead of late March.

However, council will vote on the final revised alignment in April as previously scheduled.

The plan remains to start construction in spring 2021 on the segment between Victoria Park and the Shepard station in the southeast.

Construction on the downtown portion of the Green Line would start sometime after that, depending on the design and procurement processes.

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