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Calgary business leaders are again questioning the Green Line’s plans as the vote emerges

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Author of the article:

Alanna Smith

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May 03, 2020 • • May 3, 2020 • • 3 minutes read • • 55 comments Calgary Transit CTrain arrives at City Hall Station on Tuesday, January 28, 2020. Photo by Azin Ghaffari /.Postmedia

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A group of Calgary business leaders says the city council must “jeopardize” the $ 4.6 billion green line project by making major routing and construction changes in the face of the financial shock from COVID-19.

In a letter to the city council, the group said a plunge in oil prices, a global recession and the pandemic will have a lasting impact on thousands of Calgarians who cannot offset potential budget constraints with increased taxes.

“Calgary is fighting right now and we have to be very careful, very careful. We just can’t take the risk of going over budget on a project like this – the biggest, most complicated, and most expensive thing Calgary has ever done, ”said Jim Gray, veteran oilman and member of the group.

The group urges the Council to take immediate action to reduce the risk of the Green Line by updating its “underlying assumptions” and adopting a “measure twice, cut once” approach.

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Their alternative plan is to hack up the 7th Avenue South to 16th Avenue North portion of the Green Line, scrap underground segments, use platform-loaded cars that match the existing fleet, and divide the first phase of the project into more than five construction sites to produce more local products jobs. The group estimated these changes would save about $ 3.2 billion.

Jim Gray can be seen in this 2015 file photo. Jim Gray can be seen in this 2015 file photo. Photo by Ted Rhodes /.Calgary Herald

“We need jobs for local Calgarians and we need those jobs now,” said Gray. “We’re not trying to play a power game here. We want more local people and if we build this thing on the surface of 7th Avenue South we will use more local contractors. “

He said building on the surface as opposed to subsurface building and dividing the project across three to five construction sites can attract Calgary talent, but anything larger, like bridges over the Bow River and cutting and covering segments of subsurface, the business will enable larger corporations firms.

Coun. Shane Keating, chairman of the council’s Green Line committee, said they heard from the group several times and raised many of their concerns.

“The quarterbacking of armchairs often provides rational and sensible ideas. The difficulty is that when you do an in-depth study, these rational, reasonable ideas or concepts don’t materialize in reality because they pose other problems instead of taking a holistic approach to the project, ”said Keating.

  1. An early illustration of what the proposed Green Line station on 16th Avenue N might look like.

    The council vote on the downtown Green Line route has been delayed due to COVID-19

  2. In this file photo, a CTrain is traveling on the Blue Line towards the city center.

    Delay in the green line or risk of an “economic catastrophe”, informs the group of companies to the council

  3. An illustration of one of four types of bridges being investigated by the City of Calgary for the Green Line over the Bow River.  The cable-stayed bridge has a vertical column that supports cables.

    City shares possible Green Line designs and Bow River Bridge options

He said their questions and points will be addressed at the Green Line Committee meeting next month and based on this information, the council will make decisions in order to move forward.

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“Discarding a number of proposals that probably haven’t been considered as well as others and thinking this is the way to go just doesn’t make sense,” Keating said.

Ward 12 city council said the city had been careful in addressing potential risks under the Green Line project and made changes if necessary, such as replacing the previously proposed deep tunnel that runs under the Bow River with the ones above ground . He also referred to the Technical Risk Committee, which was made up of experts from across Canada.

Councilor Shane Keating asks questions when Calgary 2026 first publicly unveiled its draft Hosting Plan at Calgary City Hall on Tuesday, September 11, 2018. Councilor Shane Keating asks questions when Calgary 2026 first publicly unveiled its draft Hosting Plan at Calgary City Hall on Tuesday, September 11, 2018. Photo by Darren Makowichuk /.Postmedia

Keating said the project will attract both local and external talent, and the southern portion alone will create about 12,000 indirect and 8,000 direct jobs. He said it was an important project to get the province’s sluggish economy going again, even if it is taking longer than expected with the added complication of COVID-19.

“The key is still an LRT. The key is still to get to Shepard on the 16th, ”Keating said, adding that he would like it to stretch even further south to Mckenzie Towne.

“We have to take a holistic approach.”

On May 12th, the Green Line team will identify the recommended tier one orientation and announce the public engagement ahead of the June 1st Green Line committee meeting, where it will be forwarded to the city council for final approval once approved.

The council is due to decide on the fate of the project on June 15th.

alsmith@postmedia.com

Twitter: @alanna_smithh

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