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Plans, budget for Calgary's Green Line LRT to be finalized in June, says CEO

An artist rendering of the Eau Claire area that will be redeveloped as part of the Green Line LRT project with a major station underground. Construction is set to begin this fall.  (Harvard Developments - image credit)
An artist rendering of the Eau Claire area that will be redeveloped as part of the Green Line LRT project with a major station underground. Construction is set to begin this fall. (Harvard Developments - image credit)

Plans for Calgary's new Green Line LRT will be finalized in June, which will determine whether more money is needed to complete it, according to the project's CEO

Darshpreet Bhatti said his team has been looking for ways to save money on the Green Line by using lower priced materials and changing certain design elements.

Bhatti said that by their own estimates, they have already reduced costs by $400 million.

"We're hoping that by [June], we should have progressed the design far enough where our partners who are pricing the project with us can give us numbers that are much more certain than where we are today," he said.

Bhatti said that once they have a firm idea of a potential budget, it will need to be approved by council before being brought to the province to seek any additional financial support.

"It will always be our job to make sure that if there are opportunities and value propositions that make the project better, whether it's from a schedule perspective, design perspective or cost perspective, that we can't just ignore them," he said.

Bhatti was unable to give an estimate of the size of a potential funding gap at this stage.

Coun. Sonya Sharp said she's looking forward to the costs of the project being revealed to the public in June.

"I've been kind of concerned about this project since Day 1, and one of the reasons I'm concerned with it is that it is a very large project — one of the largest projects we're going to see in Calgary and North America.… I really [think] at this point things need to start coming out publicly."

Sharp added that the scope of the Green Line could be revisited when a budget is presented, depending on whether or not costs have escalated. However, she said, completely scrapping the project isn't a likely outcome.

"What would people think of the city if we just all of a sudden folded up and moved away? How would contractors ever want to work in a city like this again? I think there's more of a reputational risk here than anything."

Sharp added that inflation is affecting everything in the city, including megaprojects such as the Green Line.

Construction on the new transit system is expected to begin in the fall.