Calgary announces board to help steer Green Line megaproject

·3 min read

The board that will oversee construction of the Green Line LRT has been announced by the City of Calgary.

The nine members have experience in planning, transit, finance, boards governance and more.

The board includes:

  • Don Fairbairn, chair.

  • David Duckworth, city manager.

  • Janet Annesley.

  • Larry Beasley.

  • Ian Bourne.

  • Fred Cummings.

  • Bharat Mahajan.

  • Patricia McLeod.

  • Marcia Nelson.

The board will report to the standing policy committee on priorities and finance at least four times a year, according to Thursday's news release.

"The new board will improve Green Line decision making, govern the speed at which the project is moving and bring in experts that will review and provide guidance to administration on delivering megaprojects," said Fairbairn in the release.

Recruitment was conducted by an outside firm and over 300 candidates were evaluated, according to the city.

Project delays

The project is the largest in Calgary's history, with a potential price tag of $5.5 billion and plenty of controversy still swirling.

Since October, the city has been working with the province in order to deal with concerns raised in a consultant's report the province still hasn't shared with the city.

In December, the city said it was pausing the procurement process for the first phase of the project.

"We do not believe it is responsible to continue with the current procurement while discussions with the province are evolving," it said at the time.

That likely means construction won't begin this summer as originally planned.

On Oct. 9, Alberta Transportation Minister Ric McIver wrote a letter reaffirming his government's $1.5-billion commitment to the project, but said a review had turned up concerns.

He listed costs and the current design, contingencies, governance structure and the "overall procurement strategy" as issues.

Conflict with province

Those concerns were based on a report written by Nick Hann for the province, but that report has not been shared with the city, and council had to pass a motion in December to formally request it.

The province has said it is a "train line to nowhere" because the project has been broken up into phases with the details of the downtown portion still to be finalized — an accusation Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Coun. Shane Keating both strongly rejected.

A statement emailed by a spokesperson and attributed to McIver says he welcomes the board.

"As stated in my December 14 letter, we were aware of the board appointments and worked with the city's search firm without delay," it reads.

"I welcome the opportunity to work with the newly appointed Green Line board members to get a functional transit project built for Calgarians."

As of the end of November, the city has spent $600 million for land, engineering and design, enabling works and construction.

A spokesperson for the project said delaying construction of the first segment is estimated to cost $1.5 million per month.

The province has pledged $1.53 billion for its share of the project, but had previously announced a delay in releasing that full amount. The first instalment of provincial cash for capital spending on the project — $25 million — is scheduled for 2021, according to the latest budget.