Calgary, Alberta – November 14, 2019 –
With Calgary City Council’s Green Line Committee scheduled to meet on Friday to discuss the fate of the project a few paragraphs of text may now be all that stands in the way of construction beginning. In a Nov 4 op-ed published in the Calgary Herald defending the 90 day termination clause introduced in Bill 20, Minister Ric McIver pointed to the Canada – Alberta Bilateral LRT funding agreement as having similar language with a similar purpose. A closer examination reveals key differences between the two documents that could be Green Line’s salvation.
“Minister McIver should be commended for his determination to work with the City of Calgary to find a solution to the problem created by the delay to Green Line funding. We have confidence that issue can be resolved but if the language in Bill 20 remains unchanged it could prove to be an insurmountable hurdle,” said Jeff Binks, president of LRT on the Green. “The Minister has pointed to the federal funding agreement as having a similar intent as Bill 20 and as being acceptable to the City of Calgary and to industry so if the wording in that document works for everyone, why not just adopt those portions of it to replace the controversial text in Bill 20?”
Article 10 of Bill 20 allows the Lieutenant Governor in Council to terminate the $1.53 billion grant agreement “without cause” after a minimum of 90 days’ notice. Article 11 limits the liability the provincial government has even if funding is terminated due to “misfeasance or bad faith”. In contrast Articles 5 and 22 in the Canada – Alberta Bilateral only permit funding to be terminated through either a budget appropriations bill that must stand up to the rigours of the legislative process or through a 90 day dispute resolution process. The difference in tone and the increased level of transparency and scrutiny outlined in the federal document means the likelihood of funding being terminated is much lower. The LRT on the Green Foundation is proposing the Alberta Government replace Articles 10 and 11 in Bill 20 with the text from Articles 5 and 22 in the Canada – Alberta Bilateral.
“We are at the point where construction of a $4.9 billion infrastructure project is being held up not by funding but by a few paragraphs of text. By copy and pasting the wording of the federal funding agreement to replace the controversial language in Bill 20 Minister McIver can launch the largest public infrastructure project in Alberta’s history and put 20,000 people to work. It’s the deal of the decade. If the provincial government isn’t willing to make such an easy modification to Bill 20 it’s concerning and Calgarians deserve to know why,” concluded Binks.
The Relevant Excerpts From Bill 20 and the Canada – Alberta Bilateral Are Included For Reference On The Following Pages
Link to the full text of Bill 20: https://www.assembly.ab.ca/net/index.aspx?p=bills_status&selectbill=020&legl=30&session=1
Link to the full text of the Canada – Alberta Bilateral Agreement: https://www.infrastructure.gc.ca/prog/agreements-ententes/2018/2018-ab-eng.html