Community association head urges province to rethink answers to Calgary’s transit woes

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Duncan Kent, president of the Lakeview Community Association, said he has felt plenty of unease since he took his post two years ago. City and provincial planners have put his community on the chopping block more than once, as the province continues to push for a resolution to the ongoing ring road debate.

Only an agreement between the province and the Tsuu T’ina Nation to the west of Lakeview would spare homes from destruction in Calgary, should the Lakeview option become reality. While Kent said he is increasingly optimistic about the prospects of an agreement with the Tsuu T’ina Nation, he isn’t holding his breath.

“Would the chief want to sign an agreement with an outgoing premier [Ed Stelmach]?” Kent asked. “If it were me, I’d want to sign an agreement with the new guy rather than the old guy.”

Until the new premier settles in, the uncertainty may potentially persist. This raises troubling questions for Kent and Lakeview in general, which is facing the destruction of up to 500 homes, approximately 25 per cent of the community.

“Can the businesses in Lakeview Plaza survive after losing that many customers? Are the schools in Lakeview going to be viable when you lose one quarter of the residents?” Kent said. “You lose the schools in a community and it changes everything.”

Stephanie Pasychny grew up in Lakeview and now works as an administrator for the community association.

“Lakeview wouldn’t exist anymore in the way we know it now,” she said, adding that even her mother’s house “could very possibly be wiped out if they were to widen Glenmore Trail.”

Ring road construction

Coming to a community near you? Construction continues on the southeast leg of Stoney Trail.

Photo by: Geoffrey PickettsIf construction were to begin in the community, Kent said a lot of people have talked about chaining themselves to bulldozers.

He said he believes while an agreement with Tsuu T’ina would avert disaster for the community, it is still not an ideal solution to Calgary’s traffic problems.

“Calgary’s problem is a commuter problem,” he added.

Arlannah Bennett, who lives in Lakeview and works with the Save Glenmore Park organization, agrees.

“A ring road is not the solution to southwest Calgary’s traffic problems,” she said. “The solution is better urban planning, and rethinking what it means to get from point A to point B.

“The transit system in Calgary is an old horse,” added Bennett. “Upgrading transit is definitely a good way to start. That’s the first step.”

The kind of proposals Kent and Bennett are suggesting are unlikely to be considered until it is determined whether or not a deal can be reached with the Tsuu T’ina Nation. Regardless, Kent said he would like any proposal that involves demolishing homes taken off the table.

“If the deal doesn’t go down with the Tsuu T’ina Nation, then they have to go back and ask themselves a different question and start from scratch,” he said.

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