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Provincial bill casts further doubt on Green Line LRT

A Ctrain makes it way along 7 Ave SW in downtown Calgary (PHOTO: Tom Ross - 660 NEWS)

CALGARY (660 NEWS) — After last week’s Alberta budget raised some concerns on the future of the Green Line LRT project, new language in a proposed piece of legislation is casting even more doubts.

Bill 20, the Fiscal Measures and Taxation Act being tabled in the legislature includes a clause near the bottom of the document allowing the province to outright cancel their more than $1.5-billion portion of the $4.5-billion deal.

“The Lieutenant Governor in Council may, by order, with a minimum of 90 days’ notice to the City of Calgary, terminate the grant agreement without cause,” states the bill.

Right underneath, a similar clause is also in place for the City of Edmonton’s transit project.

READ MORE: Alberta budget put Green Line in jeopardy?

Following numerous promises that the project will go ahead, advocates feel they have been bamboozled.

“It contradicts all of the messaging we have heard from them to date about trying to get this project built,” said Jeff Binks, President of LRT on the Green.

“It’s potentially in jeopardy and they can change their mind for any reason. But they haven’t really been forthright about that, there hasn’t been a lot of transparency around that because it’s been hidden at the back of this extremely long bill.”

Binks equates it to getting a loan from the bank, but the bank not telling you that they can take back all of the money without notice.

READ MORE: Alberta budget promises balance amid some cuts over the next four years

It follows a funding reduction in the budget, which commits to only $75 million from the province up to 2023, instead of the prior commitment of $555 million.

The Green Line funding is also a three-party agreement between the province, federal government and the City of Calgary. Without one piece of it, it will likely all fall apart.

Binks said the province is putting citizens at risk and wonders why they are at the same time promising funding for Deerfoot Trail.

READ MORE: Where does Calgary fit in the provincial budget?

“This project is needed to help Calgarians get to work, every year that it is delayed is a year more of traffic chaos on the Deerfoot, problems for people to get to their jobs or to get back home,” said Binks.

Premier Jason Kenney was part of the federal cabinet that committed to their portion of the project back in 2015, and he again promised it would be built during the provincial election campaign.

After the budget was released on October 24, Mayor Naheed Nenshi also said the reduction in funding will put the project in jeopardy.

Ward 12 Councillor Shane Keating, one of the loudest advocates for the project in City Hall, said they may have to consider uncomfortable options — from changing the scope of the Green Line to maybe even putting a complete pause on it.