In 2009, five years of planning and negotiating for a ring road in Southwest Calgary was voted down by the members of the Tsuu T’ina (more here). When the province walked away from further discussions, they declared the Tsuu T’ina option dead and were anxious to move on; to develop another option entirely within the city of Calgary. This would be called the ‘Plan B’.
On November 27 2009, only five months after the rejection of a Tsuu T’ina alignment, the City of Calgary and the Province of Alberta signed a Memorandum of Understanding to jointly explore the 37th street SW corridor for the purposes of building an 8-lane freeway entirely within the city limits. The scope of the MoU was eventually expanded to consider alternative routes to 37th street SW, and the study was meant to conclude in the fourth quarter of 2011 with a proposed route.
Was there really no ‘Plan B’?
When the 2009 deal was initially defeated, then Mayor Dave Bronconier stated that they did not have a Plan B for the City and Province to fall back on.
Every transportation plan since 1959 planned for an extension of Sarcee Trail to become the primary north-south freeway on the west side of Calgary (essentially the ‘Plan A’). Though there have been a few alternatives proposed throughout the years, mainly involving on 37th street SW, these concepts had never been fully explored, and none have ever been approved (you can see these preliminary concepts here).
Continue reading “‘Plan B’”
This is the first of three articles on the role of 37th street in the ring road story. Part two, from 90th avenue SW to Anderson road can be found here, and part three here.
Since it was first paved, 37th street SW in Lakeview north of the reservoir between Glenmore Trail and 66th Avenue SW has been a quiet residential road with a single lane in each direction (and a third for parking on the east side). Its purpose has been to feed into Lakeview, the Married Officer’s housing on the Harvey Barracks, North Glenmore Park and the Weaselhead. Prior to this the road existed as a gravel road, and was a small but important link in a road that served both the Tsuu T’ina reserve and the area of Priddis beyond.
Currently along 37th street SW in Lakeview there are 105 homes (single family and duplex) that occupy the east side of the street, and approximately 45 feet of grass on the west side. At the north end of Lakeview, there are also 2 apartment buildings (comprising 66 units) that directly adjoins the road. While access to the Tsuu T’ina reserve (and previously the Military base) at 37th street has long been in use, in recent years that connection has seen increasing use by the public. The Tsuu T’ina opened a casino near the intersection of 37th street SW and Glenmore Trail in 2007 which is reliant on this connection. While the casino has increased the demand on the road, and the casino expansion will surely increase the demand further, casino traffic is largely contained to the area closest to Glenmore Trail. Continue reading “37th Street SW, Glenmore Trail to 66th Avenue SW”
1996 is the earliest public mention of plans by the Tsuu T’ina to develop a casino, the same year the Harvey Barracks was closed, and a full decade before the land was cleared and returned to the Nation. The original plans called for a casino, hotel and entertainment complex, and on June 30, 2004, the Nation voted to proceed with the Casino portion. Groundbreaking on the 84,000 square foot casino was held September 14 2006, and was open to the public in December 2007. The casino was controversial from the very beginning, especially in regards to access. Continue reading “The Grey Eagle Casino”
The motivations of the Provincial government in building the Southwest Calgary Ring Road (like the City before it) are clear; to provide a transportation corridor for better access to and from the Southwest quadrant of the city, and to allow for transportation of goods around the city and avoiding busier inner-city roads.
The southwest has a number of natural and political obstacles that restrict the kind of transportation infrastructure found elsewhere in the City. These include the Reservoir and the Elbow river, the Weaselhead, the Fish Creek and the Fish Creek Provincial park, and the Tsuut’ina reserve. The negotiations with the Tsuut’ina, and the 2013 agreement, navigated all of those obstacles to provide only the second fully north-south corridor in the Southwest quadrant, the other being Macleod Trail.
But what’s in it for the Nation?
At different points in the relationship between the Tsuut’ina and the City and Province, there has been differing attitudes to negotiate and sell land. While in the past there had been an apparent willingness by the Tsuut’ina Nation to sell reserve land providing there was a clear benefit (the Weaselhead in 1931, the Highway 22 corridor in the 1930s and again in the 1950s, though even these sales are contentious) by the time the first road plans were drawn up that identified the reserve as a potential route, the Nation was cool to the idea of providing land for a road. In 1978, Tsuut’ina Chief Clifford Big Plume stated “We are not going to benefit from a highway through our reserve” (See below)
Continue reading “Developments and Masterplans”
‘The 940’ plays a very important role in the history of the Southwest Ring Road. It is the centre of ring road planning from the very beginning, and in many ways remains the key to an alignment on Tsuu T’ina lands. But what is the 940?
The 940 is a 940 acre parcel of land that makes up the north-east corner of the Tsuu T’ina reserve. It is bordered by the City of Calgary on two sides, 37th street SW and Lakeview to the east, Glenmore Trail and Glamorgan to the north, and the Elbow river and Weaselhead defines its south and west borders. Every official alignment of a major road in this area has the road cutting directly though the heart of this land. Continue reading “The 940”
(For information about the 2013 ring road agreement including maps, click here)
In my last post, I talked about the road design that was part of the 2009 proposal, which was eventually defeated in a referendum of Tsuu T’ina members. While this design formed a large part of the 2009 agreement, the details of that agreement are equally as important when it comes to understanding the history of the road. By all public accounts, the reasons why many members of the Tsuu T’ina voted against the 2009 deal were contained in the details of this agreement.
Soon after the deal was rejected by a vote of about 60.5% against, Tsuu T’ina Chief Sanford Big Plume made comments that the Tsuu T’ina were interested continuing negotiations. While stating categorically that they were not asking for more money, more land or a different route, he did identify a few details of the agreement as being part of the reason the vote failed. Rather than rejecting the entire agreement, he implied that the Nation had voted against certain clauses that were unacceptable. While the Nation were on record as wanting to continue the negotiation process (the deal was only ever put to a vote that one time), after the rejection the deal was declared dead by the Province.
Before we look at the details later identified as needing revision, lets look at what the agreement actually contained: Continue reading “The 2009 Agreement”
(For information about the 2013 ring road agreement including maps, click here)
In my previous article (found here) I wrote about the design of the Southwest Calgary Ring Road, and included the road diagrams. Those diagrams showed the ‘Ultimate Stage’ of the road, which showed the road as it would be once fully built out, something that would happen only once Calgary’s population reached the 2.1 million mark. However, they do not represent what would initially be built in the short term if this road becomes reality. This article covers the ‘Stage 1’ or ‘Opening Day’ design for the road that would be built if (or when) a deal is reached.
THE FUNCTIONAL PLANNING STUDY
Focus Engineering designed the road from about 2005 to about 2008, and did so with on behalf of the Province, with input from the City of Calgary, the Tsuu T’ina and stakeholder groups. The final road design is contained in the final Functional Planning Study (FPS) document.
‘OPENING DAY’ ROAD DIAGRAMS
The following diagrams are of the ‘Opening Day’ stage of the Southwest Calgary Ring Road, taken from the Functional Planning Study. The number in the circles on the road indicate lane count. Please click on the images to see a much larger version. (Note the direction of North, as the orientation changes from diagram to diagram).
101st Street SW and Highway 8 to 69th Street SW. Continue reading “2009 Southwest Calgary Ring Road Design: Opening Day Stage”