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Calgary initiates expropriation process for rapid transit project

Backlog at Alberta land titles office demanded early action to keep construction on track
Calgary reached an agreement in January 2023 to purchase of Eau Claire market (redevelopment pictured), a key parcel needed for construction of the Green Line LRT project in the city. It has since initiated expropriation proceedings should other negotiations falter.

Calgary has quietly initiated expropriation proceedings against the remaining properties needed for construction of the $4.9 billion Green Line LRT project.

With the city planning to deliver the land needed for construction of the project in the second quarter of 2024, the city filed papers with Alberta land titles in mid-February.

“We’re still actively trying to negotiate on the backend but we have started the expropriation process just because of the timelines with the province,” said Wendy Tynan, executive director, stakeholder relations and communications with the Green Line LRT. “It takes about four months for everything to be registered with land titles. In Alberta right now, they’re a little backlogged.”

Tynan said that most properties have been acquired, with work to assemble the needed properties having started as early as 2014. The alignment for the route was announced in 2020, so the need for the properties isn’t a surprise to any of the property owners.

In the Southeast Calgary area, land requirements are 96 per cent fulfilled, with the expropriation process initiated on just a couple of parcels where Tynan said negotiations are “just not moving forward.”

Negotiations for a few parcels in the Beltline district of downtown are also ongoing, with a key success being scored in January with the finalizing of an agreement for the purchase of the Eau Claire market from Regina-based Harvard Developments Corp. A value has not been disclosed for the deal, which includes both the purchase of land for the station area and the lease of additional land for use during construction.

The deal is important because the market sits above the terminus station for the first phase of the project, which will be delivered by Montreal-based engineering firm SNC-Lavalin Inc.

“This was a really important piece for us to be able to negotiate,” Tynan said.

Tynan hopes for similar successes on the remaining parcels required in advance of construction starting in 2024.

“Our hope is that we’re able to pull as many as possible throughout that period,” she said. “But we just needed to make sure that if a deal isn’t reached we don’t have to start the clock.”

The first phase of the project runs from Eau Claire south to Shepard, just north of the South Trail Crossing Shopping Centre. When fully built out, the project will run 46 kilometres from 160 Avenue North south to Seton on the city’s southern edge. It will include 29 stations, of which 13 are included in the first phase.

The southern expansion will benefit all forms of development, including employment lands.

“The whole southeast side of Calgary is grossly underserved by transit,” Tynan said, noting, “The alignment was designed around employment areas.”

The total number of properties required for the project have not been disclosed. Some of the acquisitions the city has made since 2014 include opportunistic purchases in anticipation of future transit construction.