With the impending opening of the new hospital, the southeast quadrant is the fastest growing area in Calgary, yet we lack an LRT line and proper recreational facilities. What concrete steps can the mayor provide that would ensure the extension of the LRT in the southeast and the building of new recreational facilities?
Thanks for the question, Warren and Shifra. City council has made a commitment that the Southeast LRT is a major transportation priority for the City of Calgary. The challenge is that it is about a $2.5-3 billion piece of infrastructure. The City, on its own, does not have the financial capacity to build it. So we must rely on participation from the provincial and federal governments. The provincial infrastructure program, the Municipal Sustainability Initiative, is about to end. The federal government’s primary municipal infrastructure program, Building Canada, has also expired, with no indication of programs to replace it.
The ultimate solution is to work with both governments to develop long-term sustainable funding mechanisms for capital infrastructure in cities at a level that is sufficient to develop major infrastructure like LRT lines. Over the past year, I have been working hard to ensure that municipalities are a high priority for the other governments. In the case of the province, both the new premier and minister of municipal affairs have indicated they will be working with us to make those reforms.
In the short term, the City has allocated funding ($10 million) from the GreenTRIP provincial funding program for Calgary Transit to do detailed design work for the Southeast LRT so that the project is “shovel ready” once funding is available. Any savings realized from the procurement of 50 LRT vehicles will also be allocated to the development of the SETWAY — the Southeast Transitway — a series of dedicated bus lanes to vastly improve the bus service to southeast Calgary.
As for new recreation centres, under my leadership, city council created a new Community Investment Fund. This is a sustainable $42-million fund for community infrastructure, including recreation centres. A significant share of that fund for years to come is being set aside for the construction of four recreation centres, three of which are in the fast-growing southeast. The project can move forward once the federal government announces its portion of the project funding as part of its P3 Canada program.