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Ring road would destroy vibrant communities

posted Apr 1, 2011, 5:44 AM by Geoffrey Vanderburg   [ updated Apr 1, 2011, 5:50 AM ]
By Duncan Kent,
Calgary Herald

March 28, 2011

It is well known that the residents of Lakeview oppose the use of 37th Street S.W. as a ring road connection linking Glenmore Trail (Highway 8) with Highway 22X. What may be less well known is that Lakeview strenuously opposes all five options proposed by the current government study team.

The residents of Lakeview sympathize with southwest commuters who deal with traffic snarls on the way to and from work every weekday. However, we all deserve a city that works. Destroying communities and levelling homes, moving vehicles by means of an expressway through a natural area and risking the safety of our water supply at the cost of billions of dollars is not a solution.

Our view is not, as many believe, just a simple case of "not in our backyard." The ramifications of the proposal are more significant than the future of Lakeview; it is, in many ways, the future nature and quality of life in Calgary itself that is at risk. We believe the provincial government's planned expressway will not just hurt us in Lakeview, it will hurt us all.

The functional planning study considers only what routes might be used to join two roadways. It does not truly consider the financial cost, the environmental costs or the social costs. It does not take into account the downstream effects of spreading traffic congestion to different locations or the massive infrastructure projects required to accommodate the traffic north of the Glenmore Reservoir.

We are of the view the provincial open houses failed to provide Calgarians with sufficient information about the five identified route options and the province will not have reliable information about the preferences of Calgarians as only a narrow crosssection of the city's communities were covered.

If a ring road connection is required for highway traffic to bypass southwest Calgary, which itself is arguable given the road network presently in place, a far better route would be along the Highway 22 corridor west of the city joining highways 1 and 22X. As the population of Calgary and environs grows to the west, both north and south of the Tsuu T'ina lands, any of the routes currently proposed would quickly become an inner city expressway rather than a bypass.

For example, the City of Calgary forecasts that 78,000 people will live just west of 37th Street between the southern boundary of the Tsuu T'ina reserve and Highway 22X by the year 2040. None of the proposed routes would "ring" this burgeoning population but, rather, would separate it from the rest of Calgary while simultaneously bringing highway traffic right through what will soon be a heavily populated area of the city.

The proposed road is presented as a cure-all for southwest Calgary's commuter woes, but we, like many Calgarians outside of Lakeview, believe it will not produce the advertised results. It will only serve to further congest roads and neighbourhoods north of the reservoir.

A megaproject of this nature also takes a long time to complete -probably eight to 10 years. Far quicker, less expensive and more effective solutions are readily available to Calgarians, and the present farsighted city administration has shown the willingness and initiative to implement those measures. This, we believe, is how the majority of Calgarians truly wish to address the transportation challenges facing the city, rather than through eroding the city's best features by acquiescing to plans from above to pave over healthy communities and irreplaceable parkland.

Our initial opposition to the proposal to build a highway through our community has led us to conscientiously consider the Calgary of the future and has introduced us to many from all parts of the city who believe, as we do, that the real question we need to address is how to keep Calgary vibrant, alive and moving forward, not just where to build another road.

Duncan Kent is president of the Lakeview Community Association.

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For more information about the southwest ring road from Lakeview's perspective, visit this page of this website.
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