Artist rendering of a Green Line station.
City of Calgary
An ambitious proposal to create gardens along the length of the Green Line took a step forward this week, after council’s transportation committee approved a plan to study costs and funding sources for six potential garden projects.City staff said Wednesday that Green Line public gardens are “feasible” but more work will be required to assess potential capital costs, real estate requirements and sponsorship opportunities.The meeting was in response to a December notice of motion from Coun. Shane Keating proposing that the city use the $4 million budgeted for public art along the Green Line to create “railway gardens” at a number of stations along the 20-kilometre route. Keating said the $4 million likely wouldn’t be enough to cover all of the costs, but could be used to leverage private investment into garden projects by partnering with non-profit groups such as the Parks Foundation Calgary.Councillors Keating, Jeff Davison, Sean Chu and Evan Woolley voted Wednesday in favour of studying the proposal further. Coun. Jeromy Farkas voted against.If approved by a full vote of council next week, staff will return to the transportation committee later this year with a complete work plan for how to deliver the project and details on six initial gardens whose locations have not yet been identified.Proponents of the project have argued the city needs to dedicate resources to creating welcoming and attractive public spaces near Green Line stations in order to avoid problems with crime and safety that plague existing CTrain stations.“Transit stations are not looked upon as destinations, they’re not really places that you want to be,” said Parks Foundation CEO Sheila Taylor. “They’re places you want to come and go, probably as fast as you can.”Taylor said her organization could partner with the city with the goal of creating stations that serve a “higher purpose,” with community hubs, playgrounds, green space and recreation.“This isn’t an idea that is some kind of frill or extra, this is the way that we need to be thinking,” Taylor said.At least two committee members expressed concern about the likelihood of capital and operating costs associated with public gardens significantly outstripping the $4 million identified in the initial notice of motion.“We don’t know much this will cost,” said Farkas. “I don’t think there’s a plan in terms of how we operate and maintain these types of valuable amenities. My concern is taking care of the parks that we do have and I think the city (is) falling a bit short in terms of being able to properly maintain what we do have.”Woolley voted in favour of the project Wednesday, but said he wants more information about how much of the Green Line’s multibillion-dollar budget has already been set aside for landscaping and public place-making near stations. He said he’s concerned the city might not be prepared to deliver on some of the “city shaping” improvements that were promised in the early stages of planning.Moraig McCabe with LRT on the Green Foundation echoed some of Woolley’s concerns.“In the past year or so, the city shaping part of the vision has been somewhat sidelined,” McCabe said. “We feel this vision of Green Line gardens along the line helps to return some of the hope that Calgarians had for the opportunities that could be created by this project.”firstname.lastname@example.orgTwitter: @mpotkins