City's Green Line property shopping list is long

A city council committee discussed in a closed-door meeting Thursday a list of properties the city needs to buy for the southeast leg of the Green Line. If approved the list will give officials the green light to start negotiating to buy the land which will be used for the city's next LRT line.

Parts or all of several dozen properties needed for southeast leg of LRT

The city has a long list of properties that it would like to purchase along the route for the Green Line southeast LRT line. (City of Calgary)

Councillors are discussing a long list of southeast properties the city needs for the Green Line.

Several dozen properties are on the list for acquisition. Although the addresses are public, the debate about those properties will not be held during the public portion of Thursday's land and asset strategy committee.

The committee's chair, Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra, said just because a property is listed doesn't mean the city needs to buy it in its entirety.

"We're going to have to acquire properties to make this a reality and that's what the land and asset strategy committee will be reviewing," said Carra.

The city has been setting aside right-of-way or acquiring properties along the southeast alignment since the 1980s.

"We're going to need bits and pieces here and there of existing properties (and) a couple of whole properties," Carra said.

Several properties needed for Ogden Station

For example, several houses will need to be bought to make way for the Ogden Station.

Another member of the committee, Coun. Shane Keating, says if council approves acquiring a property, the rest can be up to administration.

"Up to a certain level, Corporate Properties can acquire it on their own approval. The next level, they would require senior administrators' approval and then it goes up higher where you actually need council approval, depending on the dollar value of each property," said Keating.

One of the properties the city needs to buy is owned by Neil Richardson.

His company has been renovating the historic C.C. Snowdon building in Ramsay. The Green Line will run on an elevated guideway just east of the building.

He's not surprised his land is on the list. Richardson has been told the city wants to buy a piece of his property for a support structure for the elevated line.

"They need a little bit of our south land plus some access rights and some air rights to the corner but they apparently miss our building — but not by much," said Richardson.

Taxpayers might be pleased the city will be buying land when the real estate market is at a low point. But that's a concern for Richardson, especially when it comes to negotiating with government.

"When you're negotiating with a government entity that ultimately has the power to force you to sell, it really becomes a little more challenging and a little more ... your options are less because you may not have the option to hold the property for three or four or five years and wait for the market to be better," said Richardson.

CBC Calgary's special focus on life in our city during the downturn will look at the city's culture, identity and what it means to be Calgarian. It's called Calgary at a Crossroads.