Monday, July 10, 2017

Calgary: Green tax to fund Green Line

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Calgary: Green tax to fund Green Line City of Calgary

The Canadian province of Alberta plans to spend CA$1.53 billion (US$1.187 billion) in provincial carbon tax money to fund one-third of Calgary Transit's Green Line light-rail transit expansion project.

As reported in the July 6 edition of The Globe & Mail, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said the carbon tax is a key factor in the LRT expansion. "Every cent of it in terms of the provincial government's contribution is coming from the Climate Leadership Fund, which is funded by the carbon levy, and it absolutely would not have been possible without it." Notley said. Calgary City Council approved the final alignment and 28 station locations for the 46km (28.58-mile) Green Line project in June.

Notley spoke at an LRT station with Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi and members of her NDP (New Democratic Party) caucus as the city prepared the famous Calgary Stampede.

The Canadian federal and Calgary city governments previously announced that they would fund the remaining two-thirds of the Green Line's cost. Alberta's carbon-tax-based share will be paid during the next eight years. The province is calling it "the single biggest infrastructure spending announcement in Alberta history."

The Green Line's first phase will span from just north of downtown Calgary to southeast of the city. When complete in 2026, it is expected to serve more than 60,000 riders per day. The city estimates the Green Line will reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Calgary by 30,000 tons annually, as much as that produced by 6,000 motor vehicles.

The opposition party, the Progressive Conservatives, said they support Alberta's funding pledge "despite being highly critical of government spending," the Globe & Mail reported. "Ric McIver, who is the PC leader in the legislature, said the Green Line is badly needed and called Notley's announcement 'very good news.'"

McIver, a former Calgary city councilor, resides at the southern end of the planned Green Line expansion project. He described residents' current peak-period trek into and out of the city as "long, slow, painful commutes. . . . This is a good investment."

Calgary is expected to be a key battleground in Alberta's 2019 provincial election, the newspaper said. The NDP currently holds 16 of the city's 25 seats. The PC's have six and the Wildrose, Liberals and Alberta parties have one each.