ATCO rips up section of Rotary/Mattamy Greenway pathway for pipeline upgrade

Heavy equipment operators have dug up portions of a newly constructed pedestrian pathway in southwest Calgary because of a new high-pressure gas pipeline upgrade by ATCO Pipelines.

The Rotary/Mattamy Greenway pathway runs 138 km around the periphery of the city, connecting neighbourhoods and parks.

In the fall, Parks Foundation Calgary, a non-profit agent for the City of Calgary, completed a three-kilometre section of the pathway despite knowing ATCO would soon tear it up.

Pedestrians and cyclists enjoyed the new section for two months. However, by December, the materials used to landscape the pedestrian path laid in a heap of excavated rubble and concrete fragments alongside an open trench for the new gas pipeline. The construction is part of ATCO’s Urban Pipeline Replacement Project which started in 2012.

“This project was driven by gas usage in the city,” says Jason Sharpe, vice-president of engineering and construction at ATCO Pipelines. “There’s an existing line in the area, but it’s smaller. With the increased housing growth and other industrial loads, there was a higher requirement for gas.”

ATCO filed its application for the Sarcee Trail upgrade with the Alberta Utilities Commission, the province’s natural gas regulator, on March 19, 2013.Runners, like Lorena Buboi, miss the three-kilometre section of the Rotary/Mattamy Greenway Project along Sarcee Trail because they were teased by its completion in October 2014.

Photo by Amara McLaughlin

Representatives from Parks Foundation Calgary and ATCO Pipelines said they tried to time construction so that the upgrade would take place before the pathway was built. However, the approval from the regulator took longer than expected.

“Originally we were planning to be in construction earlier than December, but our permit process took longer than anticipated,” says Sharpe. “We were going to install first and they would install second, however you can’t build those pathways in the winter so they went in ahead of us. We did try to limit the amount we conflicted with the pathway so when we came in we weren’t taking everything out.”

Produced by Amara McLaughlin

Myrna Dubé, CEO of Parks Foundation Calgary, says it’s not unusual to run into competing interests on city land.

According to Dubé, her organization decided to spend donor funds and complete the pathway ahead of the upgrade, despite knowing it would soon be torn up.

She added ATCO had agreed to pay for the rebuilding of the pathway. 

“This is very normal when you’re building a project where you’re using right of ways and you’re using utility corridors. These things happen,” says Dubé.

Kelly Bowman, senior advisor of corporate communications with ATCO Pipelines, estimates the company will pay $15,000 to $20,000 to replace the ripped up sections. ATCO’s Jason Sharpe adds his company’s best practice policy is to reclaim the site to its original state.

“Anywhere we have done construction, if we create a disturbance it’s ATCO’s policy to put everything back as good or better than it was when we got there,” Sharpe says.

Sharpe anticipates that the pipeline replacement construction will finish at the end of February.The Rotary/Mattamy Greenway project rests beside ATCO’s open trench for a new high-powered gas pipeline upgrade on Jan. 17, 2015.

Photo by Amara McLaughlin Wilco, the company that worked on the original pathway will return in April to finish the reclamation, with final completion slated for summer 2015.

Meanwhile, with this winter’s above seasonal temperatures, Lorena Buboi, assistant manager of the Running Room Westhills, says she’s disappointed that the pathway is gone. Buboi had used the pathway for running clinics and workshops because of its unusual length in the area. She says other local runners miss it, too.

“They actually prefer it especially for the longer distance runners just because you don’t have to cross many stop lights in between, so then you’re pausing your watches and interrupting your run,” says Buboi.

Once complete, the pathway network that connects Calgary’s parks and pathways will be the longest urban pathway in the world.

amclaughlin@cjournal.ca