Posts Tagged ‘tsuu tina’

Calgary Mayor: Full Speed Ahead on Ring Road Plan B

When the Tsuu T’ina nation surprised Calgarians (and Premier Ed Stelmach) by voting against the proposal that would have saw the SW portion of the ring road cut through their reserve, the Municipal and Provincial Governments immediately began working on alternative plans. Action on the alternative plans was so swift that even the Tsuu T’ina nation seemed to be caught off-guard as Chief Sandford Big Plume held onto his hope that talks would resume. Unfortunately for Big Plume, the Province of Alberta and the City of Calgary were done talking. 40 Years of talking is too much, even for politicians.

The City took the first step to alleviate traffic pressures in the SW by constructing a roundabout on 37th street. Instead of allowing eastbound Glenmore Trail traffic to turn left across westbound Glenmore Trail traffic the new configuration has drivers making a right turn at 37th street. They then enter the roundabout to make a u-turn to continue travelling on north on 37th street. The location of the roundabout irked the Tsuu T’ina tribe–it is located right at the entrance of the Grey Eagle Casino. The City received a letter from the tribe on October 16th, dated October 2nd which warns that the Tsuu T’ina nation:

“does not consent to any road construction on or near Tsuu T’ina Nation lands not accounting for the Tsuu T’ina Nation’s rights to enter and leave lands at any point along our borders.” It goes on to say that “any interference by the city of Calgary of Tsuu T’ina Nation’s rights to enter and leave its lands at any point along Tsuu T’ina Nation boundaries constitutes a breach of our rights under Treaty No. 7.

The next part is the kicker:

“Any construction of roads by the city of Calgary or the permitting of any other buildings or development along the road is a breach of Tsuu T’ina Nation’s rights under Treaty No. 7.”

Mayor Dave Bronconnier was not deterred by the threat of legal action. “We’re not going to stop because the First Nation writes a letter asking us to stop.” He went on to reiterate that the City of Calgary will continue to provide the tribe legal access to the reserve through the Anderson Road and 37th street intersection. The mayor said the city would consult with the Tsuu T’ina nation as a courtesy. “We would seek their input, not their approval.”

Brilliant. I say if you’re going to play hardball, you better be ready to deal with the outcome. The Tsuu T’ina gambled for a better deal from the Province and City but their bluff was called. They now face the prospects of getting nothing and may even lose a key entrance to their Grey Eagle Casino. Perhaps the gambling should best be kept inside the casino.

Traffic Circle To Ease Glenmore Congestion

Source: City of Calgary

Source: City of Calgary

When the Tsuu T’ina Nation voted against the Ring Road deal, The City of Calgary promised quick actions on a Plan B and today it has announced plans to alleviate the traffic congestion faced by commuters everyday along Glenmore Trail at the 37th street intersection. The solution, albeit a temporary one, is to no longer allow eastbound traffic on Glenmore to make a left turn to head north on 37th street. Instead, they will make a right turn to head south on 37th street where they will enter a roundabout / traffic circle to turn around and head north again. The City admits this is not a long term solution, but only one that will temporarily ease the congestion.

The good news is that construction will start as early as next week and it should not disrupt traffic as it is on a relatively quieter section of 37th street. The project is expected to take about a month to complete so we will not have to wait long to see how well it will work. The City estimates that the construction of the traffic circle and accompanying changes will cost about $250,000. A proper long term solution to the congestion in the area is a full interchange with a pricetag of $85M.

I see this as a great solution. It does not cost that much, and eliminating the left turn allows traffic on Glenmore to keep moving for an extra 20 seconds. Cars blocking the left lane trying to get into the turn lane will also no longer be an issue. However, an issue that may potentially arise is that the increased westbound traffic flow will now bottleneck at the Highway 8 intersection. The City and province needs to move quick on the 37th street Ring Road and in the mean time expand Glenmore capacity in case of any future construction or planning delays for any alternate routes.

Another Step Closer To 37th Street Ring Road

The title is a bit misleading, but we are one step closer to seeing some expansion of the roadways in the southwest portion of Calgary with Premier Ed Stelmach saying today that the province is not going to resume talks with the Tsuu T’ina Nation after the band voted against the Ring Road proposal. Instead the Municipal and Provincial Governments will work together to fund the expansion of existing roads to alleviate the traffic pressures caused by the numerous delays to the SW portion of the ring road project.

The vote was taken. The agreement was turned down. There’s no coming back,” the premier said in Calgary today.

Tsuu T’ina Chief Sandford Big Plume as recently as last week hoped talks would resume. From an outsider’s perspective it looks like Tsuu T’ina people gambled for a bigger and better deal from the Province and lost big time. Instead of a counter-offer, the Province and City have officially closed the doors to any talks and plan to build around the reserve. The band has scheduled a meeting to discuss the ring road for later this week.

However, the Tsuu T’ina First Nations are not the only group that is not ready to move on. Environment Minister Jim Prentice said today that he hopes talks will resume between the Province and the band. I think 40 years is enough talking and every year we sit around and do nothing, the traffic continues to grow. The costs to build the roadway will continue to soar.

“It’s an essential project,” Prentice said. “I hope that the province and Tsuu T’ina pick up that ball and get on with it.”

We don’t necessarily need the SW portion of the ring road. Aside from the fact there wouldn’t be a “ring” around the city, there is no harm in leaving out the portion that would have run through the Tsuu T’ina land. Instead, expanding Glenmore Trail to 6 lanes and building an interchange at 37th street and Highway 8 would keep traffic moving there for years. A 37th street tunnel (or bridge like the one over Bowness Park) would further alleviate any traffic pressures. The 37th street tunnel would be subsidized by the Tsuu T’ina First Nations because they need easy access to the Grey Eagle Casino at the corner of Glenmore and 37th street.

I wish city planning was as easy as Sim City :)

NO DEAL! Tsuu T’ina First Nation Members Vote Against SW Ring Road

Over 700 Tsuu T’ina band members voted earlier today on the SW ring road deal and only 38% voted in favor of selling over 400 hectares of reserve land to the Alberta Government for the construction of the massive ring road project. Details of the proposal were not made public but the Calgary Herald obtained documents showing the Provincial Government offering up to $275M with a minimum $240M held in trust by the Federal Government. The band would have also received 2000 hectares of crown land on the northwestern border of the reserve in exchange for 400 hectares needed for the construction of the roadway.

“The agreement did not guarantee that the Nation would receive additional reserve land,” Chief Big Plume said in a news release following the vote, “Tsuu T’ina tried to solve that problem at the negotiating table. We regret that we were unable to do so.”

The City of Calgary will now have to work on an alternative plan with the Provincial Government and decide if the SW portion of the ring road will ever be built. Alberta Transportation planners have been looking at constructing a SW freeway like the ring road since the 1960’s and with today’s vote it may be another 50 years before we have improved north-south corridors in the Calgary area.

I’ve read on the forums about this proposal, and I think it just might work. Instead of transferring $275 to the Tsuu T’ina band, why not buy up all the properties in Lakeview along 37th street and tunnel under the weaslehead area? Of course with the alignment of the ring road running along 37th street there will be no more access to the Grey Eagle casino on the Tsuu T’ina reserve from Calgary but I say we leave that problem to the band members to deal with.