A new poll shows that the majority of Calgarians polled support building the Green Line LRT project.
The results show that 67.8 per cent of people who responded support building the Green Line based on the estimate that the project will create 20,000 new jobs.
It also found that 70.5 per cent of respondents support building the Green Line while the project is supported by a $3 billion dollar commitment from the federal and provincial governments.
The poll came just days after the release of a separate poll, commissioned by an ad hoc group opposing the Green Line, which showed a majority of Calgarians supported a modified plan for the Green Line.
“We have two surveys in relatively close succession that are showing different directions in terms of support. We need to take a pretty close look at the methodology,” said Mount Royal University political scientist Lori Williams on Monday.
“But in spite of this debate highlighting essentially the negatives, the majority of Calgarians look like they’re supporting it. That suggests there is almost an optimism about the benefits of this rather than focusing on the negatives,”
The poll also found that 63.5 per cent of those surveyed support building the Green Line to North Central (16 Avenue north) to the south east communities, as planned by the city.
“The poll demonstrates that a strong majority of Calgarians want the Green Line built now, from north to south. Calgarians overwhelmingly reject half-baked ideas to cut the north portion of the Green Line and only build south. Not only is it necessary to get [the] LRT to 16th Avenue North now, it is critical to lay the foundation for lower cost future expansions to North Central communities whose BRT (bus rapid transit) buses are already over capacity,” said Peter Oliver, Project Calgary organizer.
The earlier poll was conducted from May 14 to May 19. The results from that survey suggested that most respondents want to see the city’s public transit system expanded, but that they also want it to look different that early proposals for the Green Line project.
69 per cent of people in that poll were in favour of expanding the LRT system through the new Green Line but after hearing about the costs of the expansion, only 51 per cent wanted to see it “proceed as planned.”
“We are seeing a lot of ambivalence around this and we don’t yet have a clear picture of what the north leg of the line would look like. But because of all the economic and environmental benefits it looks like some Calgarians, in fact the majority, are willing to support this,” Williams said.
Calgary city councilors are expected to debate and vote on the final alignment of the Green Line on June 16. It was approved at the Green Line committee meeting on June 1. The current plan for the first stage of the Green Line would see it run from 16 Avenue N over a bridge to Eau Claire, through a downtown and Beltline tunnel and at street level south to Shepard.
City councilors, both in favour of the Green Line and those with reservations, weighed in on the poll.
“The poll confirms the what we heard at [the] June 2nd committee and in our inboxes from constituents: Calgarians want to move forward with the Green Line and they strongly support using the $3B in federal and provincial investment to build North and South, as per the plan before us,” councilor Evan Wooley told Global News.
Ward Sutherland said it reconfirmed “the fact that the majority of people want the Green Line to go ahead – however they want it done in a pragmatic way with de-risking.
“And that’s really what we are talking about. We are in favour of the Green Line but it needs to be staged, and we need to protect our financial risk.”
The Project Calgary poll was sent to 25,053 Calgarians and 1,617 people completed it. According to Project Calgary the poll has a 3 per cent margin of error.
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