The Ring Road System – Implementation (1980 to 2001)

This is the third of a four part series on the history of Calgary’s ring road, covering the period when construction of the road first began. While this site continues to focus on the Southwest portion, I wanted to cover the history of the rest of the road, to provide some context to the story. Part one of this series (Initial Outlines) can be found here, and part two (Integrated Planning) can be found here.

After many studies, and many more years of planning, this period marked the first time that physical work on the project was undertaken, and the road was finally becoming a reality. Even with the route of the Transportation Utility Corridor (TUC) being largely set in the 1970s, the path to a finished road was never going to be straightforward. In this period there were (and still are) many issues to resolve, agreements to make, and studies to undertake. Despite the false-starts and the setbacks involved in the business of actually constructing a road, significant progress was made; the ring road went from being a line on a map to the beginnigs of a constructed freeway system that is currently close to being three-quarters finished. Continue reading “The Ring Road System – Implementation (1980 to 2001)”

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)”

Midnapore

Home to over 75,000 calgary residents, the development area of Midnapore (not to be confused with the singular community of Midnapore) has become an integral part of the story of the Southwest Calgary Ring Road. Hemmed in by several geographic and political obstacles, transportation in the area has been problematic, and has always been at the forefront of planning. Despite early efforts to ensure that the area developed within the means of the transportation system in the area, this considered planning has been recently ignored, and housing development has been allowed to surpass the capacity of the road network. The pressure on (and the occasional failure of) the transportation network has prompted increasing calls for new links to the area, specifically the ring road.

The area of Midnapore is defined by Fish Creek provincial park to the North and East, Highway 22x to the South, and 37th street SW to the West.

Continue reading “Midnapore”

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”

‘Plan B’

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’”

37th Street SW, Glenmore Trail to 66th Avenue SW

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”

The Grey Eagle Casino

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”

Developments and Masterplans

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

‘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”

The 2009 Agreement

(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”