Businesses frustrated with Calgary Green Line delays

Businesses along Calgary’s Centre Street are still waiting for the train and the promises that come along with it. As Shilpa Downton reports, the delayed Green Line is affecting improvements to a historic Calgary neighbourhood.

Businesses along Calgary’s Centre Street are still waiting for the Green Line, and the area’s business improvement area (BIA) says the area is quickly deteriorating, and safety concerns are causing uncertainty for small business owners.

The Green Line project, expected to cost around $5.5 billion, is noted as “the largest infrastructure investment” in the city’s history and includes commitments from the federal government, the province, and the city.

It is currently in phase one, which consists of constructing 13 new LRT stations between Shepard and Eau Claire, connecting to the red and blue lines, and adding four MAX rapid bus routes. Construction is set to begin in 2024 and will take five to six years.

In a news release sent out Thursday morning, the BIA says it expressed concerns when the Green Line Project was divided into two construction phases, one for the south of the Bow River and the other north of the river.

The Crescent Heights Village BIA says with phase 2 being contingent on no cost-escalations in phase 1, construction north of the river could take several years, which makes it “impossible for businesses in the area to plan their futures.”

“We’d like to really honour Centre Street’s role in Calgary’s history as a designated main street and make some changes that came with promises of the Green Line construction,” Camie Leard, the executive director for Crescent Heights Village BIA, told CityNews.

“Those were things like new sidewalks, pedestrian level lighting, speed mitigations.”

WATCH: Alberta government urged to get Green Line LRT expansion back on track

She says the BIA and the CHCA will follow through on requests for Centre Street improvement, which includes a slower speed limit and speed enforcement, noise bylaw enforcement, safer parking, and a general move towards “treating Centre Street as the designated main street it is.”

The BIA says letters were sent by itself and the Crescent Heights Community Association (CHCA) to council and administration in 2021, and have had numerous meetings since.

However, Leard says their frustration has been met with minimal response.

“Not knowing if and when a major construction project is coming through is … causing some issues for us,” Leard explained.

She says it’s careless for the city to continue pumping the brakes on plans to improve the area.

“The construction process is always painful. But in the long run, we really feel like having the Green Line come up through Centre Street is good for the neighbourhood, and we bring pedestrian traffic to the neighbourhood,” she explained.

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Leard says two years is too long, which is when they first requested an interim plan from the City of Calgary, now they’re pressing the city to take meaningful action.

“Not having an answer is harder than a yes or no in many ways,” Leard said.

She says small business owners are still recovering from the pandemic, and these simple requests would go a long way in making Centre Street safer, more accessible, and reflective of its status as a designated main street.

Meanwhile, in a statement to CityNews, the city says it has received a letter with concerns from the BIA and the CHCA, and it says planning improvements within communities can take an extended period of time due to factors that include “future infrastructure development and funding.”

“We understand that these timelines are not ideal for those anticipating improvements through a previous plan,” the statement reads.

“We are committed to continuing to work with both the BIA and the Crescent Heights Community Association as we explore future development and improvements in the area.”

The city says the new line is expected to serve around 65,000 Calgarians daily.

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