A little over a year ago, I saw the online newspaper comments attached to a story about the provincial government’s plans regarding the Southwest Calgary Ring Road (SWCRR). The article was well written and dealt with the issue at hand, but it was the comment section that inspired me to pursue and really understand the issues surrounding this road.
The one thing that seemed to define the comments on any story that covered the SWCRR was the lack of consistency regarding the history of the project. No two posts agreed on how the project got to where it was. In these comments, there were some posts that contradicted others (The road was always/never intended to go up 37th street) comments that seemed to get some basic facts wrong (The Tsuu T’ina never sold any of their reserve to anyone apart from the Weaselhead) and some that simply seemed to defy all logic (The houses in Lakeview on 37th street are zoned R2 because they were always meant to be demolished for the road).
I had heard enough rumours and hearsay to know that only documented evidence would satisfy my curiosity. It is a complex and detailed history, so it’s really no wonder that the truth is bogged down by misunderstanding, mistrust and emotion.
To be brief, the Province is looking at building a north-south road in the Southwest quadrant of Calgary, to complete the city’s ring road. This otherwise innocuous goal is complicated by a number of geographic and political obstacles, and, unlike the rest of the ring road, no clear corridor has been set aside for this purpose. The first proposed road of this kind in the area dates back to 1959 and the ‘Calgary Metropolitan Area Transportation Plan’, the first ever comprehensive transportation plan for the City of Calgary. The plan called for a 4-lane extension of Sarcee Trail, due south across the Elbow river, then swinging east to join up with 90th avenue SW and south again towards Anderson Road. The City itself has changed in the intervening years, and so have the plans for the road.
I hope to use this blog as a way to get to facts about the history of the road and to explore the issues that led us to where we are in it’s development. To dispel some ideas that, while untrue, have nonetheless taken hold in the debate surrounding this infrastructure project. My research has put me in touch with City and Provincial officials, politicians, academics, citizen groups and environmental activists. With access to news archives, planning documents and personal correspondence, I think a clear and honest picture of the history of this road can emerge, and with luck, some of the misconceptions can be put to rest.
As well, 2012 and 2013 look set to be important years in the development of the SWCRR. Negotiations are back underway between the Province and the Tsuu T’ina First Nation, the Government has a new mandate for the next several years, and the desire for this road to be built has seemingly never been higher. I hope to present and comment on current news as it happens.
Unless stated otherwise, everything I will be presenting will be backed up. If you have information that can clarify, expand, or even challenge any topic here, especially if you have documentation (newspaper articles, planning documents, maps, letters etc), please feel free to leave a comment.
(Check out the timeline here for a quick summary of the issues and the history involved in this project)