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Kenney would use negotiating leverage on Green Line LRT, Nenshi responds

(Rogers Files)

There may be plans and money already in place for Calgary’s shorter version of the Green Line LRT, but UCP leadership candidate Jason Kenney says if he’s premier, he wants answers.

“I would use our negotiating leverage to go back to the City and say, why has the Green Line shrunk in half?” he said this week in Calgary.

The massive infrastructure project was originally slated to span 40 kilometres of track from the southeast to north Calgary, but in May the City announced the same $4.5 billion would go toward the first phase of 20 kilometres.

“Why did we the federal government commit to 40 kilometres and you’re only delivering 20?” Kenney said.

Construction of the Green Line is slated to begin in 2020, following the next provincial election in 2019.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi responded to the idea of the province and the City going back to the negotiation table.

“Perfect, if he wants to give us a ton more money, we’ll build a ton more of the Green Line,” he said.

Nenshi said the main issue is that the deal between the two sides includes the City and provincial government, not the NDP specifically or Premier Rachel Notley.

He said citizens expect the funding to be there.

“If anyone wants to be premier, wants to end that project or create a huge hole in the ground that will never be filled in and if they want to call it, the “Premier Whoever Memorial” in the ground, they can do that, but they better be pretty clear,” he said. “I consider this to be a done deal.”

Ironically, it was Kenney who announced the federal government’s commitment of $1.5 billion toward the project in July 2015 at a news conference including Nenshi and other city councillors.

But Kenney’s bigger target this week was the NDP, reiterating his earlier statement that the province’s funding portion coming from the carbon tax is ‘smoke and mirrors.’

“Money is fungible,” he said. “All of the revenue raised, whether it’s income tax, business tax, carbon tax, it all goes into the same pot.”

“This is not tied to the carbon tax, that is a political gimmick,” he added, arguing the best way to further economic growth is through tax relief.

In July, Notley announced the province would be contributing $1.53 billion towards the massive project.

“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.