‘It is a community divided’: Lakeview residents want city and province to block traffic from Tsuut’ina First Nation

Calgary Lakeview residents ask to block traffic from Tsuut’ina First Nation
Sun, May 20: Some residents of the southwest Calgary community of Lakeview want the province to reconsider plans for a portion of the ring road that would link the neighbourhood to a Tsuut'ina development. There are calls to oppose access between Lakeview and the First Nation but as Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports, it's an issue that is dividing the community.

Residents in Calgary’s Lakeview neighbourhood are concerned about increased traffic that could flow into their community following the construction of a new development on the Tsuut’ina First Nation.

A letter from the Lakeview Community Association to the province and City of Calgary requests a meeting with the province to “re-engage discussion about the proposed design of the transportation projects that will affect the Lakeview community.”

Letter from Lakeview Community Association
Letter from Lakeview Community Association. Global News

Some residents are concerned with possible increased traffic that would come with the new $4.5-billion development planned on the Tsuut’ina First Nation.

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The development would include retail, residential and entertainment developments and at least one access point at the 56 hundred block of 37 Street S.W.

Geoffrey Vanderburg resigned as president of the Lakeview Community Association after 15 years in March over what he calls the “caustic tone of the board and its change in direction.”

At the March meeting, the majority of residents voted in favour of “pursuing alternative options” to the long-term plan for 37 Street.  But Vanderburg is disappointed the board used that result to push for cutting off access to the First Nation.

“We’ve now asked the province to rescind an agreement that was struck in 2015 with respect to the intersection at the 5600 block of 37th Sreet and we’ve told the province we want no access from Lakeview into the reserve whatsoever. Block off all access. That was not a question that we asked the community,” Vanderburg said.

Concerns have been raised about more access points built along 37 Street in the future. Vanderburg says what is needed now is a traffic study to determine the actual implications of the new Tsuut’ina development.

“I think the traffic concerns are fair. The anxiety and the stress, that’s maybe not justified. Because we’ve only within the past few weeks been given the plans from the Tsuut’ina,” Vanderburg said.

Other Lakeview residents are worried about how the letter is making their community appear.

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“This letter makes us look like we are entitled and elitist and that we are not willing to play with different groups of folks,” said area resident Steve Jobidon.

“Every change is scary but we need to embrace change.  Change can bring positive things.”

Earlier this month, the Tsuut’ina First Nation hosted a tour with Calgary area business leaders showcasing the nation’s current and future development plans.

Vanderburg hopes the letter doesn’t damage the relationship between the First Nation and the divided Lakeview community.

“It is a community divided. There are people that would like to see walls and there are people who would like to build bridges. And that’s fair to recognize there are both sides,” Vanderburg said.  He also questions why the letter was not sent to members of the Tsuut’ina First Nation as well.

“Why would a letter that talks about closing all access to the nation not be copied to the nation?”

Vanderburg says it’s too late to the change the plans with respect to the access point at the 5600 block of 37th Street.

“And it’s too early to modify plans for the development on the reserve because that is five to 10 years away. So we’re in the middle of the two issues.  If we can have a healthy discussion about what does development look like on the reserve and what is the potential impact of that development on the community of Lakeview, we will come out of this better,” Vanderburg said.

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In a statement to Global News, Alberta’s Department of Transportation wrote:

“The initial plans put in place for the access between the community of Lakeview and the Southwest Calgary Ring Road (SWCRR) change the traditional access between the community and Glenmore Trail SW. By routing this traffic to Tsuut’ina Parkway rather than directly to 37 Street SW, the design accommodates the access needs of both the community and of the Tsuut’ina Nation.

“Recently, plans were announced by the Tsuut’ina Nation for the Taza development. It is the understanding of Alberta Transportation that the Tsuut’ina Nation will be providing a Traffic Impact Assessment (TIA) as part of their request for three additional access routes directly from the this development to 37 Street SW,” the Statement said. “In addition to the Community of Lakeview, the Tsuut’ina Nation and the City of Calgary are stakeholders in the development of the SWCRR. Any conversation regarding changes to the access for all parties should wait until more details are known about these additional impacts.”

In a statement to Global News on Monday, Tsuut’ina First Nation chief Lee Crowchild said he urges “sober reflection” regarding the request to restrict access.

“Taza is a beautiful development that will provide services, jobs and increased value to Lakeview, in addition to the benefits it will bring to Tsuut’ina. The development partnership is working very closely with City of Calgary transportation planners to ensure ease of access to residents and minimal traffic interruption. One can recall that the same concerns over traffic impact were expressed during the construction of our casino and entertainment centre, and none of those concerns were justified,” read the statement.

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“Tsuut’ina is and will remain committed to the protection and improvement of our shared natural and human environment. Tsuut’ina enjoys an excellent relationship with our neighbours in Lakeview. The tenor of the recent correspondence does not, I believe, reflect the feelings of most Lakeview residents,” Crowchild continued.

“Finally, at a time when Tsuut’ina is working so hard to build bridges with Calgary, the fact that some Calgarians want to literally close roads is unproductive, and regressive.”

Members of the Lakeview Community Association board could not be reached for comment on the weekend.