The City of Calgary is exploring an extension of Memorial Drive to help accommodate new communities being developed on the city’s eastern edge. But residents are concerned an extension would eliminate green space.
The extension of the east-west thoroughfare was approved by the previous council as part of area planning for the new community of Belvedere, however the project has not been funded.
The proposed project would extend Memorial Drive from the existing communities of Abbeydale and Applewood Park to the east city limits at 116 Street E.
It would include a new crossing of the CN Rail line and an east-west overpass across Stoney Trail, without on or off ramps from Stoney Trail.
“While the plan is approved by council, the details about the configuration, lanes, sidewalks, pathways and trees accommodation is to be discussed through this functional planning study,” City of Calgary project manager Zoran Carkic told Global News.
According to Carkic, the current public engagement process will help determine how the roadway will cross through the neighbourhood, and over the CN Rail tracks, Rotary Mattamy Greenway and Stoney Trail.
The online survey will be open until August 9.
But some residents in the area aren’t keen on the plan to extend the roadway past their homes.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea: then we lose another green space,” Mark Derocher told Global News. “There’s a lot of people who play with their kids over here… and people with their dogs, they walk their dogs, let the dogs loose here.”
Jennifer Lukeniuk, who also lives in the area, said she wasn’t in favour of the idea if it meant losing the green space.
“There’s lots of children around here,” she said. “A lot of people like to walk their dogs and stuff around here and there’s a school over there as well.”
Ward 9 Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra said his preference is to have Belvedere supported by the bus-rapid transit network on 17 Avenue.
“When the entire area is close to full build-out, (Memorial Drive) will be a necessary piece of infrastructure,” Carra told Global News. “It will be required sooner rather than later if we don’t pursue transit.”
Another issue in the area is resident access to the Rotary Mattamy Greenway from Abbeydale and Applewood Park, which are on the opposing side of the train tracks.
There is a fence separating the community from the area, but a hole cut through the fence is regularly used as a crossing.
Carra said he would prefer minimal infrastructure with an at-grade crossing at the train tracks that won’t require a large overpass, but will include safe resident access to the Rotary Mattamy Greenway.
“Does it look like a massive freeway, up high, sitting under pylons? Or does is it a great street that completes Abbeydale and Applewood that takes you into the park and quickly hops over Memorial Drive?” Carra said.
“Right now, we’re having a conversation about all of those things.”
Residents in the area will have another chance to provide feedback on the project once concepts are developed later in the fall. The recommended plan for the Memorial Drive extension is expected to be brought to city council in the spring of 2023.
“Looking forward to working with everybody to achieve our plan,” Carkic said. “Hopefully in the future, we’re going to build it as the best fit.”