Build a train to YYC and Banff, premier writes to Calgary mayor

Lori Kupsch took this photo in Banff National Park at Morant's Curve. Alberta Premier Danielle Smith has written to Calgary's mayor about working with the province and private sector to develop a high-speed rail link between the city and the park. (Lori Kupsch - image credit)
Lori Kupsch took this photo in Banff National Park at Morant's Curve. Alberta Premier Danielle Smith has written to Calgary's mayor about working with the province and private sector to develop a high-speed rail link between the city and the park. (Lori Kupsch - image credit)

Premier Danielle Smith has written to Mayor Jyoti Gondek, saying she wants to work with the city on expanding the LRT system to the Calgary International Airport.

Smith is also inviting the city to work with the province and the private sector on developing a high-speed rail link between Calgary and Banff.

"Such a line would benefit Calgarians, Albertans and all visitors to our province in accessing one of the world's greatest natural wonders," the letter reads.

The city does have plans for an LRT link to the airport. In 2020, it was estimated to cost $1.8 billion, but the project is currently unfunded and the premier made no funding promise in the letter.

Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek said she is pleased to hear the province is interested in investing in public transportation projects.

"The idea of having a link from the airport to downtown and perhaps to Banff, really interesting idea," she said. "These conversations have gone on for a long time, so to think that our provincial government is able to support us is absolutely very good news for Calgary."

The letter suggests the use of hydrogen-powered locomotives would align with the government's vision to make the province a world leader in the technology meant to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In previous city council discussions, LRT expansion would start from the future 96th Avenue Green Line station and follow that roadway east before curving to the south and following a dedicated route across Deerfoot Trail and into the airport terminal.

It would then move east from the airport to connect with the Blue Line's 88th Avenue N.E. station via the airport tunnel.

LISTEN | Calgary Nose Hill MP and managing partner of Liricon discuss train priorities in and around Calgary:

Canmore Mayor Sean Krausert said he did not receive a letter from the premier and would be interested in talking more about the idea of a rail link.

"Under the previous premier, the answer had been no, and now it seems to be something that is being considered further. So, looking forward to finding out more," he said.

A spokesperson for the Town of Banff said the town did not receive a letter either.

While reaction from mayors along the corridor was mostly positive, a city MP called on the premier and local politicians to ensure residents of north central Calgary are prioritized for public transit over projects with a "tourism bent."

City of Calgary
City of Calgary

"Increased public transit is key to growing the Calgary economy, solving social inclusion issues, and addressing climate change," Michelle Rempel Garner wrote on Twitter. "However, there has been little action on providing more transit options for one of the most underserved areas in Alberta, north-central Calgary."

Rempel Garner, who represents Calgary Nose Hill for the Conservatives, pointed to $1.5 billion committed by the previous Conservative government for light rail in the city that went unused while the city has increased in size.

Gondek said she hopes the province is interested in funding these kinds of megaprojects but she does not have a meeting booked with the premier.