Trinity Paskapoo Slopes - It is about doing the "right thing"
For the past 50 years, I have lived in the northwest quadrant of Calgary. I first learned how to ski on the Paskapoo Slopes. My daughter was a biathlete who used the slopes to train on. City Council has acknowledged that the Paskapoo Slopes is a special area and this is why we are invested in ensuring a “best solution” for all Calgarians. Unfortunately, on sensitive issues like the Paskapoo Slopes, council cannot please everyone.
The eastern land of the Trinity Hills development is privately owned. The land is not for sale. The previous council in 2011 chose not to pursue this direction. That “ship has sailed” long ago and now we are left with how to best balance protecting the Paskapoo Slopes.
What is the “right thing” when the land is private and it is not for sale? The approach was to engage the public, be transparent and insist on the best balance to protect the Paskapoo Slopes.
The land-use application was one of the most transparent and intense processes over the last year and a half. More than 80 meetings were held with surrounding communities, East Paskapoo Slopes Joint Advisory Committee, Calgary River Valley Association, adjacent land owners, community associations, Blackfoot First Nations and special interest groups. In addition, several public open houses and workshops were conducted.
The application went through rigorous examination by planning administration to ensure all City bylaws and policies, technical feasibility regarding environment, geo-tech, water resources et cetera met standards. Some processes, such as the Geo-Tech Study, were completed by three independent professionals to ensure transparency. When the process was completed, the City of Calgary planning administration recommended approval. The application was then reviewed by the independent Calgary Planning Commission, of which the members unanimously approved the plan. At City Council, the application was presented, numerous questions were asked and the public gave their input.
It’s important to note that many members of the public stated we should buy the property or do nothing. It was unfortunately was not an option. As Council, we must make our decision based on the planning merit of the application.
Council approved the first reading by a vote of 12 to 3. An 16 additional amendments were proposed (from input of public and council). A vote on the 16 amendments was 15 to 0 in favour. The final vote on the land use was 12 to 3 in favour.
What was the final outcome of the Trinity Paskapoo Slopes application? The upper two-thirds of the slopes will be returned to the City of Calgary and managed by the City of Calgary Parks Department. The City is investing nearly $3 million to improve the upper slopes and will provide guaranteed maintenance for years to come. The park will have 11.5 kilometres of trails for Calgarians and visitors to permanently enjoy. Those trails will be accessible from more than three different locations.
Trinity Hills Development is responsible for paying 100 per cent of the Sarcee Trail/16th Avenue NW overpass development. Trinity Hills is also paying 50 per cent of the cost of a pedestrian bridge over 16th Avenue and 50 per cent of the cost of the trail underpass that will join to Edworthy Park, both of which will be used by cyclists and pedestrians. In addition, there will be pedestrian and cyclist connectivity over the new Bowfort Road Interchange, which is currently under construction.
Council has introduced and added 16 amendments to ensure the design of the development will be sensitive to the area’s history regarding the First Nations and Blackfoot cultures. The amendments address environment and wildlife concerns posed during the public hearing. The new plan represents a carefully balanced mix that addresses the importance of the Paskapoo Slopes. As well, the City of Calgary has critical safeguards within the agreement to facilitatedevelopment that is reflective of the sensitivity to the land.
As the ward councillors, Councillor Richard Pootmans and I will personally be involved with the planning department and the applicant to ensure that all amendments, agreements and conditions of this development are followed. Additionally, we have safeguards to ensure design input and the quality of the development reflects the importance of this area.
This content represents the personal views and opinions of the Councillor and should not be taken as a statement of policy of The City of Calgary. The inclusion of any external content does not imply endorsement by The City of Calgary.