Calgary, Alberta – October 30, 2019 –
Questions of concern are being raised about how the Alberta Government’s Bill 20 legislation will impact the Green Line LRT. ‘Schedule 3 – Public Transit and Green Infrastructure Act’ appears at the very end of the large omnibus bill and introduces language that dramatically increases the amount of project risk the City of Calgary will have to accept as it considers whether to begin construction on Green Line after a delay to almost half a billion dollars in funding was announced as part of the recent provincial budget.
“Our new provincial government has stated repeatedly that they are committed to building the Green Line LRT however the delay to a sizeable amount of funding for the project has raised some doubt,” said Jeff Binks, president of LRT on the Green. “Premier Kenney gave life to the Green Line with the funding he announced while he was a federal cabinet minister and Minister McIver has been a supporter of this project throughout his time in government. If that commitment remains solid we must ask why language was included in Bill 20 that helps push this project towards a cliff?”
Article 9 of Schedule 3 requires the City of Calgary to seek approval from the Minister if there is any material change to the project and allows the Minister to impose additional terms and conditions prior to approving the proposed changes. With the centre city portion of Green Line under review, this could transfer the ultimate decision making power about the final alignment away from the citizens of Calgary and to the provincial government. In addition, Article 10 allows the Lieutenant Governor in Council to terminate the $1.53 billion grant agreement “without cause” after a minimum of 90 days’ notice. This termination clause means the City of Calgary faces a dramatic increase in financial risk when it comes to borrowing the money required for construction as the provincial portion of the total funding may not be available to repay the loans requiring Calgary taxpayers to make up the difference.
“After fundamentally altering a signed grant agreement and delaying a significant amount of Green Line funding Calgarians are being asked by the Alberta Government to trust them when they say they will deliver the remainder of the funding by the end of 2028. How can that level of trust be reached when at the same time they’re using the final pages of a massive omnibus bill to insert language that allows the entire provincial funding to be pulled on a whim? Calgarians deserve answers on why this language exists and need to see concrete actions that demonstrate this government’s support for Green Line” concluded Binks.