On September 19 2013, Transportation Minister Ric McIver confirmed a story published in the Calgary Journal the day before, and announced that the past several years of negotiations between the Tsuu T’ina and the Province regarding the ring road had come to a fruitful conclusion with the finalization of a new ring road deal. According to the Journal, on September 10 the Tsuu T’ina Council had approved a tentative deal regarding the land and compensation required to build the southwest Calgary ring road through the First Nation reserve. With a deal agreed upon by the Province and the Nation’s Council, all that remains is a referendum of Tsuu T’ina members, which has been set for October 24 2013. This marks only the second time that an agreement will come to a referendum of Nation members; the first, in 2009, was rejected.
Details Still Private
Premier Alison Redford has stated that the Province will not release the details of the new agreement, instead leaving it to the discretion of the Tsuu T’ina as to whether details will be made public prior to the October vote. For its part, the Nation stated that there will be no public announcements until after the vote is undertaken. Like the final agreement of 2009, the details will seemingly not be made public until the Nation has had the opportunity to consider and vote on its proposals. The Indian Act requires notice of a referendum on a First Nations reserve to be posted at least 14 days before an information session is to be held, so it it likely that full information will not be widely shared even to potential voters until at least the 24th of September.
Despite the private nature of the deal, there have been hints from both Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Minister McIver that the deal features improved wording that is seen to address previous concerns from the Nation. When the Nation and the Province re-entered negotiations in 2009, then-Transportation Minister Luc Oulette stated “We respect everything they want and we will clarify it to show them that no matter how the wording is, they’re going to get what that deal is saying… I’ve asked our guys to change it (to say) we will guarantee you that land.”
It is reported that Nenshi noted that the connections to the city in the new agreement will be largely the same as the ones proposed in the 2009 designs, while other reports say that McIver has indicated that the new deal addresses environmental concerns regarding the road. The Calgary Herald is reporting that McIver has also stated that the new agreement ‘is fairly similar in substance to the 2009 deal that was rejected by band members, with the financial terms being updated for modern times and inflation.’
Despite these words, and suggestions in 2011 that the compensation due to the Tsuu T’ina will not change from the 2009 agreement, it remains to be seen what is contained within the new deal.
With the South East portion of the ring road set to largely open on October 1st, a Civic Election taking place on October 21st and the Tsuu T’ina vote on the 24th, October 2013 looks to be a month of huge importance to the story of the Calgary Ring Road.
Below is a composite image of the 2009 proposed ring road plan. As details regarding the 2013 deal have not been made public, the exact alignment of a new road design is unknown at this time. Click for a larger version.