The Confluence

The Confluence

Ep. 3: How do you eat an elephant?

May 19, 2017

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

It's Calgary's most ambitious infrastructure project to date. A 46-kilometre, $4.65-billion (and counting) light rail transit line that will tunnel beneath the downtown core and ease commutes for thousands of Calgarians in the deep south and far north.

In early 2015, the Green Line LRT was still years, if not decades, away from becoming a reality. But a $1.53-billion pre-election funding promise from the former federal Conservative government kicked the project into high gear and lifted expectations to unrealistic heights.

It was doomed to disappoint. And, eventually, it did.

City officials revealed this month the first stage of the Green Line would only stretch 20 kilometres, from a maintenance and storage facility at 126th Ave. south, through the downtown core and stop at 16th Ave. north — half the line many expected for the same eye-popping price tag.

The reaction was predictable. Residents, many in far-flung suburban communities who devoted many hours offering input to the city, were outraged, frustrated and disappointed. Local politicians, many seeking re-election this fall, feigned shock and claimed they were just as surprised and disillusioned as their constituents.

So what happened?

In this episode, we’re joined by Calgary’s general manager of transportation Mac Logan, as well as Elise Bieche, president of the Highland Park Community Association, to sit down for an extensive and thoughtful conversation on the challenges, opportunities and disappointments around the Green Line.

Hosts Annalise Klingbeil and Trevor Howell also discuss a lil’ “backstabbing” incident in council chambers that prompted one councillor to swap seats, triggered a complaint to the city’s integrity commissioner, and pressured another elected official to issue a qualified apology.

As always, Kerianne Sproule makes us sound great.