In 1959, Calgary produced it’s first ever transportation plan, called the Calgary Metropolitan Area Transportation Study. This was the first time the City produced a comprehensive, forward-looking plan that laid out the basic road network for a growing city.
Part of this document, plus the revision in 1963 and the Calgary Transportation Study (CALTS) in 1967, showed for the first time (*see edit below) a plan for a major north-south road connecting Glenmore Trail to the areas south of the reservoir, called the ‘West By-Pass’. The City planned this section of the road to be a continuation of what would eventually be called Sarcee Trail, from Glenmore Trail, heading south through the Harvey Barracks (Sarcee Camp), through the Weaselhead area, and then south along the 37th street SW corridor from about 90th avenue SW. Because the Harvey Barracks was at that time owned by the Canadian Military, and both it and the Weaselhead area were within Calgary city limits, this original routing was contained entirely within the City of Calgary, and required no land from the adjoining Tsuu T’ina reserve.
The original form the road took was alternatively an Expressway in 1959 (“Very limited access, mostly through interchanges. Some at-grade intersections may remain.”) a Parkway in 1963 (“A type of roadway intended for non-commercial traffic with special attention given to landscaping and scenic views”) and a Freeway in 1967 (“Full control of access. No crossings at grade. No private access. Access through interchanges only.”). While the design standard was amended in these early city plans, the general route was essentially the same, with some variation of where the road would cross the river and then curve east towards 37th street.
In the intervening years, many official and unofficial alternative routes have been proposed and studied. While alternatives may have been suggested, no official plans have ever approved an alignment that did not originate at the intersection of Sarcee Trail and Glenmore Trail.
Click here to read a 1963 Herald article about the revision of the transportation plan.
EDIT: September 13 2012.
In reviewing the full text of the transportation plan, some interesting information was suggested about the origin of this road. The Sarcee Trail, or West By-Pass as it was known then, was included by the City of Calgary in the 1959 plan reluctantly. It was noted that “there is an insignificant amount of demand for by-pass routes around the city, to serve traffic moving from one provincial highway to another… Nevertheless, since a by-pass to the west and south of the city has already been firmly planned by the (Alberta) Department of Highways, it has been included in the proposed system.”
Given this, the origin of this part of the ring road is still unclear, despite both the City and the Province stating that the road originated in the 1959 Transportation plan. On October 27, 2005, Peter Manywounds addressed the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples, and stated that the road was first proposed in 1947. While I have yet to find contemporary evidence of this, it is clear that a plan for a road in this area predates the 1959 City plan. (A portion of page 74 and 75 from the 1959 study is below)