Green Line Ctrain

Calgary City Council is about to make critical choices about the Green Line.

On Monday June 15 Council will vote on the most expensive project in Calgary’s history, the $4.9B + $640,000,000 in interest, first phase of the Green Line.

The current plan hasn’t been adjusted to take account of the economic crash and the impacts of COVID-19. The result will be higher taxes, more bankruptcies and cuts to essential services

Calgarians agree – It's time to rethink the Green Line
A poll taken after the City's plan was released shows:

  • 62% think it should be de-risked or scrapped.
  • A strong majority (59%) approve of our sensible alternative, and only 31% support the City's current plan.
  • 57% of those who commuted pre-pandemic would prefer to work more from home once it's over.

There is a better, less risky way to build an LRT line that works. See below for details.

Let Council know it’s time to rethink the Green Line.

Here’s the background.

Calgary’s economy was booming when the Green Line was conceived in 2013. It was pre-COVID and pre-recession. Money was no object and it seemed like a good idea at the time.

But as everyone knows, everything has changed.

We now have empty downtown offices, record unemployment and a shrinking tax base. All caused by the energy price crash, global recession and COVID-19.

The price of WTI was $97/barrel. Today it is less than $30/barrel, and WCS has recently traded at negative prices.

Downtown office vacancies were 3.7%. They are now 27.2% and climbing.

"We will be hit harder than any other city in Canada"
– Mayor Naheed Nenshi, April 23, 2020"

This raises new questions:

• How much will taxes have to go up?
• Who will pay for project overruns?
• What other services and projects will be put at risk?
• What does COVID-19 mean for the future of public transit?

Families, companies and governments around the world are rethinking plans and budgets.

Why wouldn’t Council do the same?

Five things you need to know about the City’s flawed plan:

1. Their numbers keep changing.

  • In 2017 they said it would cost $4.65 billion to build the entire 46 km project.
  • In 2019 they said $4.65 billion only gets you 20 km. That's less than half a line.
  • In early 2020 they changed their numbers again, increasing the cost to $4.9 billion.

2. The total cost will be billions more than advertised.

To improve service levels, they will have to build the full 46 km line. They are betting they can come up with billions more to extend the line far enough north and south to actually improve service and attract enough riders.

3. Much of the money won’t be spent in Calgary.

Some are saying this will stimulate the economy. What they fail to tell you is that much of the money will leave Calgary, to large multinational engineering, management and construction companies and a rail car supplier. It will stimulate the economy all right. Just not ours.

4. It'll cost $4.9 billion to build the line. It'll cost another $40 million a year to operate it.

Once the $4.9 billion is spent, the line will add at least $40 million each and every year to the City’s operating costs. That’s the equivalent of 265 police officers or 300 firefighters. It’s a lot of money.

5. The City is broke. Council has no idea where the money will come from.

Mayor Nenshi recently estimated a six-month $400-500 million revenue decline caused by the current economic collapse. If the economy doesn’t recover right away, the city is on track to lose hundreds of millions this year.

There are ways to do it right. Every option should be back on the table.

The Green Line can be built at a lower cost and with less risk. If we do it right it can be an important part of our city's future.

On April 30, 2020 we sent our sensible alternative to Council. Here is our written submission and a map illustrating our ideas and concerns.

Our alternative aims to produce more local jobs sooner and shorten the construction schedule.

We can't afford to get it wrong. The $4.9 billion Green Line is the most expensive project in Calgary's history.

9 More expensive than the Event Centre
4 More expensive than the Calgary Cancer Centre
17 More expensive than the proposed Foothills Fieldhouse

Council will make critical choices on Monday June 15.

If the Mayor and Councillors vote for the current plan, they will be betting that:

  • You can afford a major tax increase.
  • They can come up with billions more to build the other half.
  • Their risky plan won't put other services, projects and priorities at risk.

They will be gambling with your future.

Let them know it's time to rethink the Green Line.