Disappointing Development As False Green Line Statements Creep into Provincial Campaign

It is very disappointing to see Jason Kenney resort to completely false statements about the Green Line project in a recent Facebook post in order to score political points.

Post on Jason Kenney's Facebook page, 2017-11-05

Post on Jason Kenney’s Facebook page, 2017-11-05

The Green Line is the largest public transit investment in Calgary’s history. Debate should be welcomed about such an important project, provided that debate is grounded in fact. We expect better.

“Under the NDP, construction of Calgary’s Green Line has shrunk significantly after being stalled for 2 years.”

This is just simply not true. All decisions related to the Green Line routing, staging and construction have been made by Calgary City Council. Those decisions were shaped by the opinions of Calgarians thanks to one of the most in-depth public engagement processes in our city’s history. The Alberta Government had zero involvement in shaping stage 1 of the Green Line and Calgarians just re-elected every member of City Council that did.

The Green Line has also not been stalled for 2 years. The City of Calgary has been running flat out trying to get shovels in the ground as soon as possible. Unfortunately planning a billion dollar infrastructure project takes time. The earliest Calgarians will see shovels in the ground for Green Line will be 2020. This timeline has not changed since the Green Line public consultations began. To suggest the Alberta Government has somehow stalled the Green Line is once again simply not true.

“The NDP also claim that cancellation of the carbon tax will jeopardize the project’s funding. This is insulting to the intelligence of Albertans. Infrastructure spending occurred before the carbon tax, and it will continue after the carbon tax.”

This is a fair point of debate, however it comes with a catch. One of the main reasons that the City of Calgary can now begin construction on stage 1 of the Green Line is thanks to an 8 year, $1.53 billion investment by the Alberta Government. The Alberta Government was quite clear on the fact that without the additional revenue being raised by the carbon tax, they would simply not be in a position to commit this level of funding as it would push the budget even further into debt.

The UCP, under Jason Kenney’s leadership, has promised to scrap the carbon tax and move to quickly balance the budget. It’s promising to see Jason Kenney say that infrastructure spending will continue if the carbon tax is scrapped. However unless Jason Kenney is willing to make a firm commitment to Calgarians that UCP government efforts to bring the budget back into balance will have zero impact to the 8 year, $1.53 billion Provincial funding commitment, it is fair to say that the project’s funding may be in jeopardy.

 

To be clear, this is not meant to be a post against Jason Kenney or the UCP. We should point out that the Green Line would still just be a planning exercise had it not been for the Harper Government’s pledge of $1.53 billion in funding towards the project. As a Conservative MP Jason Kenney played a critical role in delivering this funding. The LRT on the Green Foundation applauded that investment then and we will continue to underline just how important Jason Kenney’s involvement in that decision was now.

Poll-65pcWhat this post is about is the fact that just like in the recent municipal election, we believe that the Green Line is too important a project for Calgary to be used for political rhetoric. Calgarians have shown overwhelming support for the project and want to see it built. Has the cost risen to build the Green Line from end to end? Yes. But political rhetoric will not change what the cost of the project is or how desperately it’s needed by Calgarians.

We hope that Jason Kenney reflects back on that 2015 decision and commits to honouring the 8 year, $1.53 billion Alberta Government pledge if the UCP forms power. We would be more than happy to sit down with Jason Kenney or anyone from across the political spectrum to discuss why Green Line is important enough to warrant that level of funding.

Politicians at both the federal and provincial levels can either decide to stand by the existing funding commitments for Green Line stage 1 and work towards securing further funding to build Green Line end to end or to work against the project by arguing the cost is too high. In the end, we leave the choice to them with a reminder of how Calgarians viewed that choice in the recent municipal election.

 

Jeff Binks
President, LRT on the Green

 

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