Green Line LRT: My Speech to Council

June 16, 2020

Council: I address you as the Vice-Chair of the Green Line LRT Project and Chair of the Transportation and Transit Committee.

This is a good day for Calgary.

We will shortly be voting to move ahead with the Green Line, but in a way that protects taxpayers AND protects our reputation as a City – a City that can build big projects in a responsible, competent and measured way.

I want to express my perspectives on three critical points: My support for transit and the Green Line Project, our mitigation of risk, and the recommendation before us, which I believe are a positive result of collaboration and hard work by members of Council and Administration.

I believe in public transit – and as I have always said, I believe we can, and should build the Green Line.

This experience has shown me that advancing individual political agendas, anchoring on rigid ideologies or accusing those who ask questions as to whether or not we are doing the right thing - - is not helpful or productive.

Listening to Calgarians and working collaboratively towards a collective solution is what’s helpful. Overwhelmingly, Calgarians support the concept of Green Line but they want us to be prudent and sensible – yet progressive.

Calgarians deserve leadership – leadership that is thoughtful and collaborative and not reckless and positional.

This is the most expensive and complex project in Calgary’s history.

Our job is to ensure we deliver the best possible project for Calgarians, with the outcomes we can control – but we must also be responsible and fully understand the risks we can’t control.

Are we really to believe that we know ALL the answers? No. We live in a time of great uncertainty. But uncertainty can be managed with confidence and forward thinking planning – not reckless, or knee jerk reactions.

Let’s talk about these revised administrative recommendations.

I have been working closely with some of my colleagues (Cllr Colley-Urquhart, Sutherland, Gondek, Demong and Keating in particular – individuals with a lot of different interests in this project) as well as administration (thank you Mr. Thompson, the Green Line team, the legal team, citizen Cole) for taking all the calls and questions in order to move the Green LineLRT project in a positive direction. These revised administrative recommendations are a product of that hard work and collaboration.

The revised recommendations do important things to reduce risk and protect the material interest of all Calgarians - during this time of economic uncertainty – and into the future.

The introduction of a “stage-gate” process, splitting Segment 2 into two parts: (Segment 2A - Elbow River to downtown and Segment 2B - Downtown to 16th Avenue N) allows the project to move ahead in a measured and responsible way.

Important decisions about Segment 2A will be made in late 2020. Decisions about Segment 2B will be made in 2021, finalizing consultation and planning while we evaluate the possibility of further partner funding.

The next phases in the development of all LRT will be done in accordance with the RouteAhead Project Prioritization Framework.

This will allow a conversation with Council about prioritizing the extension south to McKenzie Towne and delivering on a “one good line” concept as I have called for.

North Calgary also benefits, as we move ahead and prioritize the development of a functional plan for a flexible and convertible mobility corridor in North Central Calgary, that will accommodate a progression to LRT.

All in all, these recommendations are a big improvement – a collaborative improvement - that achieve the goals of the Green Line Committee and our City.

Calgarians demand that we act as leaders – thoughtful and responsive to the current economic environment; while still being creative and fiscally prudent in thinking about the Calgary of tomorrow.

They want us to be progressive and measured.

They do not want us to recklessly gamble with their money. They do not want us to be the only people who can’t recognize the world is different today than it was in 2013 when the Green Line project was conceived.

Our citizens want a Green Line that services more Calgarians and increases the overall reach of our incredible transit network.

With that in mind, I implore you Council on behalf of the Green Line Committee to vote in favour of Administrations recommendations – as a whole, now is not the time to pretend we are the procurement or economic experts by calling items separately. I would request that after the work that has gone into these recommendations, that the chair call them as an omnibus motion.

Let’s get this train on track.

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