Lakeview residents irate over ring road
Lakeview residents irate over ring road
37th Street S.W. proposal would cut through Weaselhead
By Eva Ferguson
February 16, 2011
Lakeview residents are mobilizing to stop what they fear is a new push toward an eight-lane ring road that would cut through their upscale community and the Weaselhead, connecting 37th Street S.W. on the north and south sides of the Glenmore Reservoir.
Alberta Transportation has scheduled a series of open houses next week asking southwest residents to weigh in on that and four other options for a southwest ring road, including eight-lane expansions on existing thoroughfares like Glenmore Trail and 14th Street S.W.
Lakeview community president Duncan Kent says residents are outraged the province has so quickly and quietly set up the open houses in several areas of the southwest, but excluding Lakeview.
"The province has already set this up as five options that are all unattractive, saying to people if you have to choose one, pick the one that is the least evil.
"We feel strongly this study has been done very poorly, and the strangest thing is that they've actually provided an alternative that goes through the Weaselhead.
"Is it really right to bring a new expressway right into the heart of southwest Calgary?"
Last month, representatives from 40 southwest communities came together to discuss the five options, four of which include major, eight-lane expansions to Glenmore Trail, Deerfoot Trail, Macleod Trail, 14th Street and Anderson Road to get traffic out to Highway 22X more easily.
But according to Cecil Jahrig, president of the Woodcreek Community Association which represents both the Woodbine and Woodlands communities, most of the southwest representatives were in favour of the 37th Street expansion option.
"I know that Lakeview isn't happy and they're trying to mobilize the troops -but the only feasible option is 37th Street. It's what the majority of us wanted."
Jahrig says communities, particularly those in the deep south, don't feel great about going through the Weaselhead, but expanding existing roadways within the city just doesn't make sense.
Kent says Lakeview residents will meet this weekend to prepare their response against the 37th Street option, and plan to make a strong case at open houses next week.
They've already written letters to the province and the city outlining their concerns.
Kent also fears the politics of the 37th Street option are working against a small community like Lakeview.
"The government can easily says there's a lot more voters in the deep south than there is in Lakeview, so screw them, we're going through."
Alex Broda, special planning consultant for Alberta Transportation, agreed all five options have huge challenges.
Expanding any of the included thoroughfares to eight lanes, especially Glenmore Trail and 14th Street in certain sections, will all result in some negative impacts to neighbouring communities and expropriations.
But Broda argued if the city wants to continue to grow and develop at such a fast rate, it has to deal with the reality of moving traffic better.
"This is not an easy process or decision.
"But the city has to make some serious choices in terms of their growth.
"You have to distribute traffic for future decades, and if you don't have this road, you can't accommodate future growth."
But community leaders are also wondering whether another option to take the southwest ring road through the Tsuu T'ina reserve is still on the table.
Both the nation and the province, it seems, are willing to reopen negotiations, but neither side has taken the lead.
After a 2009 vote that saw the Tsuu T'ina nation decide against allowing the ring road through their community, Broda says the province called off efforts to renegotiate.
MLA Alison Redford, who represents Lakeview, has said the province is willing to talk again, but only if the natives come forward with a proposal.
Chief Sandford Big Plume has also said he's still open to future talks, but hasn't made any first moves to provide a proposal to the province, leaving discussions at a standstill.
For more information about the province's five options for a southwest ring road, and next week's open houses, go to www.transportation.alberta.ca/4043.htm.
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