SWCRR Impact Study

(Interested in helping with this study and adding field-work experience to your résumé? 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) have been built across the river. To allow for this design 1.2km of the Elbow River has been redirected to a constructed channel and the original channel filled in.  Two stormwater ponds have been 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 were collected in 2015/16 . We collected data again in 2017 and 2018, employing the same sampling and analytical methods, and plan to do so each year until 2022 . 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 2022.

The reports can be downloaded here:

Weaselhead Environmental Monitoring Report 2016

Weaselhead Environmental Monitoring Report 2017

SWCRR report Feb. 2018: year2 (results of a social survey of park-users carried out in 2017)

Any questions, comments on these reports, or for more information  - please contact weasel@theweaselhead.com

The construction company KGL is also required to monitor water flow and quality in the Beaver Pond, the wetland in the Weaselhead closest to the construction zone. These reports and other information on the environmental management by KGL is available on the project's website.

Want to help with the SWCRR Impact Study? See below for opportunities....  

Email Lisa Dahlseide at biodiversity4u@gmail.com if you would like to get involved giving a short description of any relevant experience.

2019 task
April to June amphibian surveys (take place between 9 pm and 11 pm - please contact Lisa for exact dates)
May to October water quality testing (please contact Lisa for dates and times)
June 17th noise survey
June 22nd  breeding bird survey (4.30am start!!)
August 19th, 20th, 21st macro invertebrate sampling and field identification (alternate dates d 26th, 27th, 28th)
Sept 9th and 10th riparian vegetation survey
Oct. 7th, 8th, 9th macro invertebrate sampling and field identification  (alternate dates  14th, 15th 16th))
t.b.a. Fish monitoring dates t.b.a. and dependent upon permits
Feb. to March  macro invertebrate samples: microscope identification (exact dates t.b.a.)

The Society gratefully acknowledges the support of the following organisations in carrying out this study: