Calgary

Calgary council votes to build the $5.5B Green Line

The Green Line, the largest infrastructure project in Calgary's history, will officially be moving forward.

North-south LRT line will be the largest infrastructure project in the city's history

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

The Green Line, the largest project in Calgary's history, will officially be moving forward.

Council voted 14-1 in favour of the revised Stage 1 alignment for the $5.5-billion megaproject Tuesday. Coun. Jeromy Farkas was the sole vote against.

Construction could start as early as next spring.

Coun. Shane Keating, the chair of the Green Line committee, said while Calgary has faced recent hurdles the LRT will be a significant investment in the city's future. 

"Pandemics do not last. Recessions do not last. Calgarians will return to their normal lives and as schools and businesses reopen, there will be an ever increasing need for transit," he said.

Coun. Shane Keating, chair of the city's Green Line committee, speaks to council in this file photo. (CBC)

The train line's future had been uncertain, with intense debate over its route and some opponents saying the project was too risky to be built.

"Today is not a big day for the city, today is the biggest day for the city," Mayor Naheed Nenshi said, adding that an investment in transit is an investment in social mobility, city building and the environment, among other benefits.

"It really is a victory for all Calgarians."

Stage 1 of the Green Line, from 16 Avenue North to Shepard in the southeast, will be constructed in three segments:

  • Segment 1: Elbow River to Shepard.
  • Segment 2A: Second Avenue S.W. station to Elbow River.
  • Segment 2B: 16th Avenue N. to north of Second Avenue S.W. station.

Stage 1 will consist of 15 new stations on 20 kilometres of track. The entire 46-kilometre line, when complete, will consist of 28 stations from 160th Avenue N. to Seton.

Nenshi said the plan for the project includes a large room for contingency to ensure the project will remains on budget.

Coun. Jyoti Gondek said the commitment to constructing a bridge across the Bow River offers some certainty to north-central Calgary.

"We have a lot of hope in the north now and that's something that's been lacking," she said.

Stage 1 is expected to serve 65,000 customers daily, and shave 20 to 25 minutes off transit users' commutes. It will also save an expected 30,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year.

"High quality transit, like LRT, is a necessity for cities to grow, be attractive to entrepreneurs and a talented workforce, and to be competitive economic centres locally and internationally," said Michael Thompson, the city's general manager for the Green Line, in an emailed release.

Earlier in Tuesday's debate, Farkas asked to delay the Green Line decision to allow Calgarians to vote in a plebiscite next year, saying a decision of this magnitude needs citizens' explicit approval.

That request failed in a 13-2 vote, with only Farkas and Magliocca voting in favour. 

The city's investment will be matched by funds from the provincial and federal governments. 

Nenshi said there have been promises from three different premiers and two prime ministers that the project will go forward.

"To me, we are really in a position where it would be very, very difficult for other orders of government to pull back on the promise they've made to Calgarians," he said.

The project is expected to create 20,000 jobs.

Tuesday's vote was a reconsideration of the alignment council approved in 2017, meaning it needed 10 councillors, instead of a majority of eight, to vote in favour for it to pass.

The first stage is anticipated to open as soon as 2026.

Take a look at the revised Green Line map below: 

This map shows the approved alignment for the Green Line. (City of Calgary)

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