Amid a backwards and forwards with the province over the Green Line LRT project, Calgary officials are set to formally make a request to the Government of Alberta for confidential access to a consultant report into the project, with the goal of higher understanding the province’s concerns with the event.
Following a lengthy discussion behind closed doors on Friday, town’s Green Line committee passed a notice of motion to ask the province to confidentially share the report with the chair of the Green Line board, Don Fairbairn.
“If the difficulty is that there isn’t a political desire to share a report since it’s confidential in nature, I don’t have to see it, but my experts have to see it,” Green Line Committee vice-chair Jyoti Gondek said Friday. “So we’ll be making that request to see if Mr. Fairbairn can get access to it.”
The $5.5 billion project underwent a review by the provincial government, which was accomplished in October.
In keeping with a letter sent in October to Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi from Transportation Minister Ric McIver, the review outlined quite a few “concerns related to risk and certainty with the project because it is currently designed, including estimated costs, contingencies, governance structure and the general procurement strategy.”
While the province and town have met frequently because the completion of the review, Nenshi said the Green Line project team has not yet seen the consultant’s report with advantageous details of the province’s concerns with the project.
“All of those allegations that (the province) have put out don’t have any basis actually,” Nenshi said Friday. “They’ve yet to share any paper on where they’re getting this from or why they feel that way.”
Nonetheless, in an email to Global News, transportation ministry press secretary Mckenzie Kibler said “serious, expert concerns have been raised whether town’s total planned budget for the Green Line will fall far short of really completing the project.”
In keeping with Kibler, the province stays supportive of the Green Line, but “more due diligence is required to deliver a functional transit project.”
“Releasing the report won’t change the necessity for further answers for taxpayers. We stay up for working with city officials to make clear outstanding questions, as we’ve been doing since October,” Kibler said.
On Friday, the Green Line Committee said it received correspondence from the province regarding concerns with the project. Nonetheless, councillors told Global News the contents of that correspondence can’t be discussed publicly since it was presented to them in a closed session.
“I’d really prefer to park the rhetoric straight away and get right down to what the problems are,” Gondek said. “Now that there’s some information in play, I feel our team can higher address those concerns.”
The primary phase of the project would see the road run from Sheperd to Ramsay. The second phase features a tunnel under the Beltline and downtown core, while the third phase has the road crossing the Bow River and running up Centre Street N., to 16 Avenue N.
The project in its entirety would see the LRT line prolonged from 160 Avenue N., to Seton, but those additional sections haven’t yet been funded. Town has already procured $500 million price of land for the project.
The primary phase was set to start construction in July 2021, but there are concerns from proponents of the Green Line that ongoing issues between the province and town could delay that start date.
Last week, town announced to stakeholders it was pausing the method to search out a developer to construct the primary phase of the project to provide officials more time to deal with the province’s concerns.
The project is anticipated to inject nearly $4.5 billion into the provincial economy and create 20,000 jobs.
–With files from Global News’ Adam Toy.