Calgary's Green Line LRT fund tripled to $1.5B after council vote

Calgary has boosted its commitment to the Green Line of the LRT by more than a billion dollars. Council also approved a plan to extend its current 10-year commitment of devoting $52 million per year toward the project by an additional 20 years.

City's commitment grows to $1.5B over 30-year period, up from previous $520M over a decade

The future Green Line LRT, expected to cost $4.5-$5 billion in total, would run from north-central Calgary to the city's deep southeast. (City of Calgary)

Calgary has boosted its commitment to the Green Line of the LRT by more than a billion dollars.

Council approved a plan on Monday to extend its current 10-year commitment of devoting $52 million per year toward the project by an additional 20 years.

That brings the city's total commitment to $1.56 billion, up from $520 million previously. The money, however, is contingent on the provincial government committing the same amount of funds.

The federal government has already committed $1.53 billion and, if the Alberta government does the same, that would bring the total pot of money available for the mega-project to just over $4.5 billion.

The Green Line would run from north-central Calgary to the city's deep southeast and the latest estimates peg its cost somewhere between $4.5 billion and $5 billion.

Council voted 10-4 in favour of the funding boost, with Couns. Joe Magliocca, Richard Pootmans, Andre Chabot, and Diane Colley-Urquhart opposed.

Chabot suggested the city shouldn't be so quick to pick up a full third of the tab when higher levels of government have pitched in more toward other transportation-infrastructure projects in the past, including the West LRT.

"Ultimately, I think the provincial and federal governments should be paying a larger percentage of the overall bill," Chabot said.

But Coun. Shane Keating, who brokered the initial deal to commit the first $520 million to the Green Line, said "the time is now" for the city to act if it wants to see light-rail transit built to the parts of the city that really need it.

"If we continually waited for other orders of government to announce their funding intentions for this project, we would still be at square one," he said.

"I must remind my colleagues that the funding commitment from the federal government only happened because we elected to dedicate $52 million over 10 years to this project."

Ball in province's court now

The final piece of the financial puzzle would have to come from the province, said Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra, but the Alberta government has yet to give the Green Line the green light by coming forward with a funding commitment of its own.

"The Green Line is not only going to move commuters who are stuck out in the deep suburbs, it's also going to build vibrant neighbourhoods at every stop along the line and provide a habitat for Calgary's next million Calgarians," said Carra.