The History of Ring Road Negotiations

On the day of a vote by the Tsuu T’ina Nation on a potential deal to sell and trade land for the Southwest Calgary Ring Road, it’s worth looking at the history of the negotiations for this road.

Many commentators have made statements to the effect that the City of Calgary or the Province of Alberta have been negotiating with the Nation over land for the ring road for upwards of 60 years. While it’s true that designs for the road, even from the very beginning, have shown the road on reserve land, it cannot be said that true negotiations have been underway since that time. Though conversations have certainly taken place for decades, the current negotiations can be traced back to about 2004, with modern negotiations starting in 1998, and prior to 1984 the Nation were largely opposed to the entire notion of running a major freeway through their land.

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The earliest ring road plans are revealed to the public. Mayor Don Mackay states that a small portion of the road, particularly the interchange with what would become 90th avenue, would cross the Tsuu T’ina reserve. Mayor Mackay said “Think of the possibilities for a great tourist attraction this would provide for the Indians… They could line the road, as it crosses their territory, with teepees and provide a wonderful sight.”

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Soon the proposed road would be altered from these early plans, and the officially approved route in 1959 was not noted to require land from the reserve. No formal discussions are known to have taken place with the Nation regarding the purchase of land at this time.

(For more on the early road, click here) Continue reading “The History of Ring Road Negotiations”

Casino Access and Bargaining Chips

In July of 2009, Calgary Mayor Dave Bronconnier stated “One thing is for sure. The legal access to the First Nation’s land is off of Anderson Road. And so we will have to accommodate and work with our neighbours as we always do… At the end of the day, we need to build an interchange at 37th Street SW and Glenmore (trail) and, most importantly, Calgarians just want us to get on with it.” Over the next few days, Bronconier indicated that while access to the reserve would always be maintained at Anderson Road, the access to the reserve and the Tsuu T’ina’s Grey Eagle Casino at Glenmore Trail and 37th street SW was only ‘considered temporary’. This was disputed by the Nation, and soon legal threats were issued over potential limits to reserve access.

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The concept of a single, legally required access point between the City of Calgary and the Tsuu T’ina reserve has been raised in recent years by politicians and the media. So too has the suggestion that the access road to the Grey Eagle Casino is only temporary in nature. However, is this really the case? Is the City only required to provide a single connection? Is the entrance to the reserve near the casino provided as a courtesy, or does that access exist as a right of the Nation? The issue around this access point is highly charged, politically sensitive, and like most aspects of this story, comes with a long history behind it. Continue reading “Casino Access and Bargaining Chips”

The Glenmore Land Claims

On June 6 2013 the Canadian government ratified a settlement agreement with the Tsuu T’ina Nation that was reached this past April regarding three specific land claims. These claims, known collectively as the Glenmore Reservoir land claims, were the result of actions taken in the 1930s regarding land in the Weaselhead area.

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The $20.8 million settlement has now concluded claim negotiations that had been ongoing since 1996. With the potential for the largest ever sale of Tsuu T’ina land for the still under negotiations for the ring road, it is important to understand the context of historic land deals, and the problems and sensitivities that arose from them. Continue reading “The Glenmore Land Claims”

1977 Sarcee Trail South Route Location Study

Though the planning for a Southwest Ring Road had been started in the early-to-mid 1950s, it remained little more than a line on a map for the next few decades. It took the pressures of growth, and the establishment of a new Provincial park, for the City to move the project from long-range thinking to a more detailed phase of planning. By the mid 1970s the planning for the Sarcee Trail extension, as it was then known, had become a priority to the City, even if the need for the road was recognised to still be decades away.

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The study would look at routes that traveled from Glenmore Trail to Highway 22x, though I will focus on the portion that crosses the Elbow River, from Glenmore Trail to Anderson Road. For more on the crossing of the Fish Creek, see here. Continue reading “1977 Sarcee Trail South Route Location Study”

The Railways of the Tsuut’ina reserve

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The concept of a Provincial road crossing Tsuut’ina land is a well established one, with two having been built, another shelved, and the Southwest Calgary Ring Road still under negotiations. However, the idea of a railway through southwest Calgary and the reserve might be a little more surprising. Around 100 years ago no less than three Railways were planned to traverse the reserve, lying as it does between Calgary, the southern Alberta coal and oil fields, and the American northwest beyond.

Though the relationship between the Southwest Calgary Ring Road and these railway projects of another century might not be obvious, their stories of infrastructure development, of planned economic prosperity through the ability to transport goods, and of the reserve’s role in potentially providing a path for these projects illustrate a long history of public and private transportation interests in the Tsuut’ina land. It is also worth noting that the Indian Act, which governs the First Nations reserve system in Canada, was amended in 1911 to allow for the expropriation of reserve land for road and railway projects. The plans shown below would likely not have required the permission of the Tsuut’ina to have been built.

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The above map shows the general location of the three lines that had been planned to cross the Tsuut’ina reserve in the early part of the 20th century: the Calgary and Fernie Railway, the Western Dominion Railway and the Calgary and Southwestern Railway. Continue reading “The Railways of the Tsuut’ina reserve”

The Trans-Canada Highway and the Ring Road

The origins of the ring road can be traced back to a time when the Trans-Canada highway was first being planned and constructed through Calgary, and the history of these two roads are intertwined. Both the northern and southern potions of the ring road have played a part in the story of the highway in the Calgary area.

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In the mid- to late-1940s the Government of Canada instructed each Province to select a route for the Trans-Canada highway through their territory. By 1949, in conjunction with BC and Saskatchewan, Alberta decided on a general route that would travel through Calgary, as opposed to a more northern route through Edmonton or a more southern route through the Crowsnest Pass. Although the highway would ultimately travel through the city via 16th avenue north and Bowness, other alignments were studied before a final route was decided upon.

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Early in the process the City of Calgary had proposed a route for the highway that would have seen the road cross the Bow River at the Shaganappi Trail and head southwest through what is now Edworthy park (road ‘A’ shown in the map above). This river crossing was also part of the city’s ring road plans at the time, but was rejected by the Province for the Trans-Canada alignment, preferring a crossing at Shouldice instead. Continue reading “The Trans-Canada Highway and the Ring Road”

The Ring Road System – The Provincial Road (2001 to 2012)

This is the fourth and final part of my overview of the Calgary Ring Road project, covering the period from 2000 to the current day. In many ways this is the period that moved the full ring road project from concept to reality. Despite a small portion having been built in the previous decade, work on a high-capacity, free-flowing provincial highway got underway in earnest after the turn of the millennium; work that is still ongoing today. (Click here for Part 1: 1956-1970, here for Part 2 1974-1976, and here for Part 3 1980-2001) As always, click on any of the maps for a larger view.

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BECOMING A PROVINCIAL HIGHWAY

In 2000, the City of Calgary and the Province of Alberta signed an agreement that transfered the control of both the Deerfoot Trail and Stoney Trail to the Province. Despite the road originating in Provincial plans, and being primarily designed by the Province since the 1970s, the Calgary ring road had to this point been a City road. Continue reading “The Ring Road System – The Provincial Road (2001 to 2012)”

The Ring Road System – Integrated Planning (1974-1976)

While the City of Calgary, and later the Province of Alberta, had addressed the concept of a ring road network around Calgary before, it wasn’t until the 1970s that the idea was formalised into a singular road plan. (Much more on the early history of the road in part one of this four part series)

1974 CALGARY PARKWAY RING (Province of Alberta)

1974 saw the completion of the first comprehensive report on the Calgary Ring Road, known at this time as the Calgary Parkway Ring, which was produced by the firm of Deleuw Cather Consulting Engineers and Planners, on behalf of the Provincial government. This report not only laid out the route and general design of the road, but it also explored the need for the road itself, and the concept of the road as part of a larger system, integrated with other amenities such as public transportation and parks. Continue reading “The Ring Road System – Integrated Planning (1974-1976)”

The Ring Road System – Initial Outlines (1956 to 1970)

In this series of four articles, I want to look at the history of the entire Calgary ring road system, not just the southwest portion. Though the Calgary Ring Road System we know today (Also currently known as Stoney Trail or Alberta Highway 201) has been largely constructed only in the last decade or so, its origins can be traced back to the 1950s and 1960s.

Click here for my summary of the earliest origins of the SW Ring Road (1953-1963).Ring road plans from 1953-1957 originated the concept of a regional bypass road network, and in 1959 portions of that plan were incorporated and approved in Calgary’s first ever transportation plan.

The concept of bypassing the Trans-Canada Highway traffic off of 16th avenue N and onto a more northerly road had been discussed essentially as soon as the Trans-Canada Highway was first routed through the City, and on September 19 1963, Alberta Highways Minister Gordon Taylor announced to a group of North Hill business owners that the Alberta government intended to build a northwest bypass west of Bowness. This section, the northwest bypass, would eventually become the precursor to the first section of the Calgary ring road to be built. However, these outlines were generally smaller piecemeal solutions to local transportation needs, and the planning had not yet reached the point of being a comprehensive design for a regional highway. That work would begin in the late 1960s, and progress in earnest in the 1970s.

Continue reading “The Ring Road System – Initial Outlines (1956 to 1970)”

Ric McIver

On April 23 2012, Ric McIver was elected as MLA to represent the Provincial riding of Calgary-Hays, and on May 8, he was appointed by Premiere Alison Redford to the position of Transportation Minister. As Transportation Minister, he will be in charge of the direction and decision-making involved in the southwest portion of the Calgary ring road. His well-known stance of supporting a road through the Weaselhead along 37th street SW has caused concern for some Calgary residents who are intent on preserving that natural area. However, this stance is not quite as straight-forward as it might seem.

Despite being a rookie MLA, Ric McIver has a great deal of experience with the ring road issue, having served as Calgary’s Ward 12 Alderman for 9 years. In that time, he was active in the City’s role in establishing a road in the southwest part of the city.

Continue reading “Ric McIver”