A bid to delay moving Calgary's southwest bus rapid transit (BRT) project forward was overwhelmingly defeated in city council chambers on Monday.
Councillors Jeromy Farkas and Diane Colley-Urquhart were behind a notice of motion to stall awarding the tender of Phase 2 of the project — the portion south of Glenmore Trail — pending a review of its scope and funding.
Construction of Phase 2 was to go out for tenders this month, but Mayor Naheed Nenshi said he asked city bureaucrats to delay so council could deal with the motion from the two southwest councillors, adding he intended to fight it.
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The motion needed 10 votes to pass under special rules, but was defeated by a count of 11-3.
Farkas with councillors Joe Magliocca and Sean Chu were the only votes in favour of the motion.
Colley-Urquhart was a no-show at Monday's meeting. Farkas said he didn't know where she was or why she wasn't there the day their motion was set to go before council.
"I guess you could say I got thrown under the bus," Farkas said.
A frustrated Farkas said he felt he stood alone in representing the majority of residents in his Ward 11 and Colley-Urquart's Ward 13.
"Sixty-five per cent of Ward 11 voters supported candidates who at least wanted to see this project revisited, and an astounding 90 per cent of Ward 13 candidates had that same position," he said.
Mayor Nenshi disagrees
Mayor Naheed Nenshi disagreed, saying he believed constituents were behind the project.
"You mean the ones who voted for me in three elections as I've been talking about the importance of this project? Yes," Nenshi said.
There were a number of procedural ways the debate could have been shut down, but Nenshi said he was eager to re-open discussions because Farkas campaigned on the issue and deserved the opportunity to be heard.
"We have to be open and transparent and fair to all councillors because, to be fair, Coun. Farkas campaigned hard on this issue and he deserved his moment in front of council to have the debate," Nenshi said.
Nenshi added the analysis Farkas was asking for, was done long ago.
"For someone to come up and make it look like council just went into this blindly, didn't actually look at all these things, didn't actually make this decision based on any facts, that demeans people's faith in how the process works," he said, adding the council spend hundreds of hours on the project, including two record-breaking all-night committee meetings.
Nenshi said he expects construction to begin on the project as soon as ATCO finishes their work on 14th Street.
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