(Interested in helping with this study? Scroll to foot of page…)

Construction of the South West Calgary Ring Road (SWCRR) started in fall 2016. A section of the highway runs across the Elbow River valley along the western boundary of the Weaselhead Natural Environment Park, located at the head of Glenmore Reservoir in Calgary. The highway will cross the Elbow River floodplain on a ~10m high earthen embankment. Three parallel bridges (north carriageway, south carriageway, and local road) will be built across the river itself. To allow for this design 1.2km of the Elbow River will be redirected to a constructed channel and the original channel filled in.  Two stormwater ponds will be built upstream of the bridges to collect runoff from the road and adjacent Glenmore Trail interchange before discharge to the river. The highway is expected to carry 80,000 to 100,000 vehicles per day upon completion in 2021.

This project’s EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) details likely negative impacts to environmental components of terrestrial and aquatic habitats, both upstream and downstream of the river crossing. The mitigation measures proposed were considered by the Province to render such impacts acceptable when compared with the perceived benefits of the design.

The Society has commissioned a study (the SWCRR Impact Study) to quantify the impacts of the SWCRR from construction to completion on terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems in the Weaselhead, and on the social benefits of the park to Calgarians. The aims of the Study are:

  • To give early warning of changes in habitat quality and ecological processes allowing the Society to request improvements in mitigation of short-term construction impacts.
  • To allow objective comparisons to be made between current and pre-construction baseline conditions upon which to base any requests for improved long-term mitigation measures.
  • To provide a case study that includes ‘before’, ‘during’ and ‘after’ data for use in considering the probable impacts of similarly designed river valley crossings and the effectiveness of common mitigation measures.

Baseline data prior to disturbance was collected in 2015/16 (full report on selected environmental components and preliminary findings of the social study available below). We plan to collect data again in 2017, employing the same sampling and analytical methods for comparison with 2015/16 (volunteer opportunities here). The long-term aim of the Study will be to have baseline data, construction phase data, and data from once the road is in use in 2021.

Weaselhead Environmental Monitoring Report 2016

Social Study Aug 2016 – Jan 2017

Want to help with this Study? See below for opportunities….  

Contact Cassiano Porto cassianocaue@gmail.com if you would like to get involved giving a short description of any relevant experience. (Note: dates are approximate and subject to change.)

2017 task No. of volunteers
Ap 15 – 21 amphibian survey (1) – 9 -11pm 1
Ap 22 – 29 amphibian survey (2) – 9-11pm 1
Ap 22 – 29 amphibian survey (3) – daytime 1
May 15 – 21 amphibian survey (4) – 9-11pm 1
May 15 – 31 amphibian survey (5) – 9-11pm 1
May 20 periphyton sampling (1)
May 1 – 31 amphibian survey (6) – daytime 1
June 1 – 30 amphibian survey (7) – daytime 1
June 25 ±1week breeding bird survey 9
July 8th ±1week noise survey - 1
July 1 – 30 amphibian survey (8) – daytime 1
August periphyton sampling (2) 1
Aug 26±1week macro invertebrates and Water Quality (1) 1
Aug 1 – 31 amphibian survey (9) – daytime 1
 Sept 9 ±1week vegetation survey 1
Oct periphyton sampling (3) 1
Oct 19 ±1week macro invertebrates and Water Quality (2) 1

(Fish monitoring dates t.b.a. and dependent opon permits.)