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Back  |  July 04, 2019  | 

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Measure twice. Cut once. This is great advice when you’re installing a fence or renovating your bathroom. But when it comes to a new $4.9-billion CTrain Line bridging North and South Calgary, this is not mere advice. It is foundational. We need to pause, reset, and measure a second time.
For the past year, the Green Line has gone off track. The vision that Council signed up for in 2016 was lean, thorough and forward-looking. It was a city-shaping project that would change not just the way we get around, but transform how we think and feel about our city. It is a one-of-a-kind project for a one-of-a-kind city, that will help make Calgary more vibrant, more connected and more sustainable. However, I worry the Green Line may be reduced from an investment in Calgary’s global future to a project that is a burden to tax payers, doesn’t serve the downtown and is a train to nowhere.
If we pass this point of no return, and go ahead with the Green Line as it now stands, we won’t be able to correct course. We will cost engineer our way into; a downtown alignment that skips the city centre rather than serves it, bad station locations in Eau Claire and the Beltline, poor integration of many stations into their neighbourhoods, no connection to the new arena and Convention Centre, an indefinite delay on bringing the CTrain to the airport, and finally, if we encounter big problems getting across the Bow we could end up postponing the whole downtown.
This is not what Calgarians signed up for. We can’t afford it. And when the dust settles, we will regret it. This is why I am asking Council to press pause on the Green Line, re-evaluate our investment according to the goals we originally laid out, and determine where to go from here. I have been a proponent of the Green Line from the beginning, and my commitment to a more connected and prosperous city for all Calgarians has not wavered. We can overcome the challenges of building a true 21st century LRT. But I will not risk our city’s stressed finances, or the fragile recovery of business in the downtown, without assurance that we’ll get an end result that serves Calgarians. I’d rather we measure again.
Some are worried that if we slow down or pause the Green Line, the project will get caught up in red tape and won’t materialize. But our city’s most complex and largest-ever infrastructure project – borne from years of consultation and engagement with Calgarians, with buy-in from all three levels of government, and led by a capable team who know how to deliver – is going to happen. And I am confident that the City of Calgary can bring the Green Line to completion.
Yet we must face the serious risks and glaring red flags that have become apparent, especially when it comes to the overall project design. Furthermore, the financial, demographic and economic conditions in Calgary have changed dramatically over the past four years. Our response should not be to break the project up into smaller and smaller pieces, to cost-engineer vital components out until all we have left is a train to nowhere. We must re-assess the alignment, get fresh outside perspectives, review our assumptions and chart a smart and cost-efficient path forward. The serious problems of the Green Line are not glitches and snags confined to one area of track – they are system-wide malfunctions that signal bad outcomes.
Measure twice. Cut once. The funny thing about this saying is what it doesn’t say: that with most things, the worst that can happen is you measure once, make a mistake, and cut twice. But with the Green Line, we won’t get a second cut. A house with a cracked and uneven foundation can’t be fixed with nice drapes and new carpet. Likewise, it won’t matter what colour we paint the trains or how frequently they come. I worry if we proceed without a second measurement, this project will fail.
Let’s tap the brakes, evaluate where we need to make adjustments, and make absolutely sure we are doing the Green Line right. And when the first passengers hop on the line, they won’t be the only ones to say thank you.
 
 Here are the specifics of what I will be asking City Council to do on July 22:

Categories: Budget; Councillor’s initiatives; Transit; Transportation; Ward Office

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This content represents the personal views and opinions of the Ward Councillor and should not be taken as a statement of policy of The City of Calgary. The inclusion of any external content does not imply endorsement by The City of Calgary.​

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