Calgary

Alberta's transportation minister hints province could withhold Green Line money

Alberta's transportation minister says the provincial government will need to take a serious look at the new plan for Calgary's Green Line before it gives the city the money it pledged for the project.

Ric McIver says the government hasn't had a chance to review project changes

Transportation Minister Ric McIver says the province will have to analyze the plan for Calgary's Green Line before providing already committed funding. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)

Alberta's transportation minister says the provincial government will need to take a serious look at the new plan for Calgary's Green Line before it gives the city the money it pledged for the project.

City council voted to move forward with the $5.5-billion LRT line from north to southeast Calgary on Tuesday. 

The province has a signed agreement with the city, committing $1.53 billion.

But Ric McIver wrote in a letter to Mayor Naheed Nenshi that while he supports the project, it has gone through several changes in scope and cost since it was first announced that will need some scrutiny.

"We therefore intend to take the time necessary to complete a thorough and informed analysis of the benefits and risks of this latest version of the project before obligations are incurred by the province, to ensure that taxpayers are protected," he wrote.

'This is the next step,' mayor says

The city plans to put out a request for proposals to build the southeast portion of the line on July 24, and a spokesperson for Nenshi's office said the provincial funding will not affect that timeline.

"This is the next step in the process. We look forward to a good discussion and welcome their review," Nenshi said.

The city was already expecting a delay in provincial funding.

In the province's fall budget, it said just 14 per cent of the project's expected funding for the next four years would be provided — $75 million instead of $555 million — with the remainder of the money coming in future years.

An omnibus bill passed shortly after the budget granted the province the power to withdraw funding for the project with just 90 days' notice and without cause.

The bill would also allow the minister to impose additional terms and conditions on the project before it can proceed.

McIver has reiterated that Alberta is committed to seeing the line built.

The train line is expected to begin construction as early as next year, with completion of the first stage in 2026.

It's expected to create 20,000 jobs, and will be the largest infrastructure project in the city's history.

Read Ric McIver's letter to Naheed Nenshi in the tweet below:

With files from Scott Dippel

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