Calgary

Where to next? Uncertainty in Green Line's next stretch worries north Calgary councillor

The first-quarter update for Green Line transit project didn't assure one Calgary councillor, who wants to see the light-rail transit line run through her northern district in the future.

Coun. Jyoti Gondek wants to see the massive light rail transit project connect north with south

Commuters at either end of the Green Line will have to wait years for the line to extend to their neighbourhoods. A north Calgary councillor worries the wait for her constituents will be too long. (Evelyne Asselin/CBC)

The first-quarter update for Green Line transit project didn't assure one Calgary councillor, who wants to see the light-rail transit line run through her northern district in the future.

Coun. Jyoti Gondek, who represents Ward 3, says she fears her constituents will be left for decades more to rely on buses.

"I continue to be concerned that the Green Line North is in peril," she told reporters after council met Wednesday. 

Calgary city staff presented an update on the Green Line construction project's first stage: 20-kilometres that will run from 16 Avenue North, in Crescent Heights, to 126 Avenue S.E. in Shepard.

But where the line should go next is being hotly debated.

To extend the line north, it could cost up to $2 billion to go from 16 Avenue North to 96 Avenue or North Point.

Much of the cost would go covering a long distance with track. The city would also have to buy hundreds of properties along Centre Street to get there, Gondek noted.

At this time, no money has been earmarked to buy that land.

"Not allocating land assembly funds for future phases will be the exact reason people will continue to say, 'We're not serious about the Green Line North,'" she said.

Many proposals

Staff made no recommendation for the next stage of the Green Line but did offer rough cost estimates for possible extensions, including:

  • $250-400 million: 2.7-km, two station extension from Shepard to McKenzie Towne.
  • $400-700 million: 2.4-km, two station extension from 16 Avenue North to 40 Avenue North.
  • $400-700 million: 5.3-km, three-station extension from Shepard to Auburn Bay/Mahogany.
  • $700 million-$1 billion: 5.2-kilometre, four-station extension from 16 Avenue North to 64 Avenue North.
  • $700 million-$1 billion: 8.4-km, five-station extension from Shepard to Seton.
  • $1-2 billion: seven-km, five-station extension from 16 Avenue N to Beddington.

Transportation committee chair Coun. Shane Keating said he would focus on what can be done with the money that will be available, rather than possibly trading north for south.

"We have to see how much money is there, what's available, and what the criteria is and where we're going," Keating said.

When the time comes to make a decision, Gondek said she worries council will go with the southern routes due to the cost of buying land in the north.

A map showing proposed stations locations along the Green Line LRT route. The first stage, the only one that's confirmed, had the line stopping at 16 Avenue North. (City of Calgary)

So she urged staff to consider ridership over cost. Northern residents will take the LRT in large numbers, she said, noting that Airdrie and Rocky View County residents may use the route to commute.

"It can't be about cost-per-kilometre alone. There is so much more to it," Gondek said.

City staff also said they expect to hire a new Green Line managing director between April and June. They have also finalized agreements with CP Rail for sections of the line that go next to the company's tracks.

Council discussed some Green Line matters in a closed-door session, which means what was said remains confidential.

The first segment is scheduled to open in 2026, and is expected to cost $4.65 billion for capital construction, according to the city's website. The cost has been covered by the city, the Alberta government and the federal government.

With files from Scott Dippel

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