SW Ring Road: Weaselhead Position Statement

The Weaselhead /Glenmore Park Preservation Society (WGPPS )

WGPPS Position Statement Regarding

Calgary Southwest Ring Road Construction (SWCRR)

The Province of Alberta awarded the contract to the construction consortium KGL, and construction has started in many places along the Calgary Southwest Ring Road route.  Several areas will directly affect the Weaselhead Natural Environment Park.  The 1.3 kilometre-long diversion of the Elbow River began in April 2017.

Is the Weaselhead Society “supportive” of the presence of the Ring Road project along the Weaselhead Natural Park?  The answer is No.

Where are we now?  

The mandate of the WGPPS has always been to preserve the integrity and bio-diversity of the natural environment park area and to raise awareness of the environmental and social significance of the Weaselhead.

  • WGPPS preferred option for the Weaselhead would have been no road.
  • The second option would have been a crossing design that minimized environmental impact, rather than the cut-and-fill causeway with a re-aligned, entrenched river and limited wildlife corridor.
  • Strong support for the Provincial Ring Road project in the City of Calgary arose as a perceived way of alleviating traffic heading into the downtown core. The provincial mandate is to construct a ring road to bypass Calgary, not a commuter route within the City. The WGPPS views the Ring Road as an “avoidance” artery that will have a limited impact on travel times to the core of Calgary, especially once development in the far SW communities increases traffic to the ring road’s capacity. The Province – Tsuut’ina Nation Agreement has a deadline of November 2021 (seven years after the 2014 land transfer agreement).
  • If the Project is not built to certain specifications contained in the Agreement, all lands will be returned to the Tsuut’ina Nation. The understanding is that the Tsuut’ina Nation regards the Ring Road as a desirable project to spur economic development on the east side of their lands.

WGPPS Goals Achieved:

  • Constant pressure resulted in changing the route from the 37th Street SW to the present routing; outside but very close to the Park.
  • The Elbow River bridge (gap in the berm) is now twice as long as originally planned.  The River Crossing is now safe for the Glenmore Dam (in an extreme flood scenario), and will permit passage of some wildlife.
  • Re-vegetation of the Ring Road Corridor and Elbow River Re-alignment: We persuaded the Project Coordinators to use more suitable seed mixes. Also, we convinced the Province to provide shrubs and trees in the corridor to improve connectivity for birds.
  • The beaver pond near the embankment: Our input resulted in the Right of Way embankment to be moved 30 meters west, and now avoids the beaver pond.
  • Installation of Less damaging downward pointing lighting (Royal Astronomical Society and WGPPS). 
  • WGPPS has been supportive of the relocation of the 37th street storm water outfall, a successful endeavour initiated by residents of Lakeview Community.
  • At the Ring Road’s Fish Creek crossing: the length of the bridge has now been doubled and matches the wildlife passage of the City’s pre-existing bridge. The public work WGPPS and Calgary River Valleys (CRV) presented to the decision makers (City of Calgary) had a major impact.

WGPPS Goals not Achieved:

  • WGPPS failed to stop the Ring Road from being a concern to the Park with respect to highway noise and light pollution.
  • WGPPS preferred a multi-span bridge instead of a berm.
  • As a result of the river re-alignment, the ecology of the Elbow River Valley will change from a meandering river environment to more directly controlled flow, and the direct river course will have an adverse effect on the Elbow River riparian vegetation wetland.
  • The integrity of preserving the Park space was broken when the Province annexed 5 acres of the Weaselhead Park with compensation to the City of Calgary.  WGPPS had considered the integrity of the Park ‘safe’ with its designation as a ‘protected natural area’.

WGPPS Action Items

Pursue mitigation initiatives:

  • Installation and monitoring of state-of-the art storm water management.
  • Dust, salinity, and particulate control.
  • Wildlife and aquatic management measures.
  • Appropriate re-vegetation of the berm and construction areas.
  • Essential sound abatement constructs.
  • Arising impacts.

We watch like hawks….We make sure everything is done in an environmentally safe manner, and report any and all infractions.

We continue to communicate our concerns to the Province and civic officials.
Board of Directors,
Weaselhead/Glenmore Park Preservation Society

May 7, 2017

WGPPS –   Weaselhead Glenmore Park Preservation Society (Weaselhead Society)
SWCRR – Southwest Calgary Ring Road – referred to as the Ring Road
CRV – Calgary River Valleys organization
KGL –  SWCRR construction consortium

About the author