The East Paskapoo Slopes is a 260 acre area that can be seen as two distinct segments. The northern third is bordered by the TransCanada Highway to the north and by the grassy knolls to the south. The Slopes start on the south side of the knolls and rise to the top of the escarpment covering two thirds of the area, or about 165 acres.
It is important to note that all of this area is privately owned. Winsport sold the land to a developer who recently made a second application to develop the land. Council, myself included, did not approve their first proposal. The current proposal was recommended by Calgary City Administration and unanimously approved by our outside experts – the Calgary Planning Commission.
The northern third, flatlands composed of old farmland and the grassy knolls would be developed with a main street connection connecting commercial, residential and retail nodes.
The southern two thirds Slopes area of environmentally sensitive slopes and ravines, would be dedicated to the City. Calgary Parks have budgeted $2.8 million to restore and maintain this park. Plans to connect this park to other City park land on the escarpment are also being made to join and extend pathways and improve access.
During my negotiations over the past months with our Administration and the applicant, we succeeded in removing a significant residential encroachment up the slope on the east side that would have come within 120 meters of the community of Patterson. I have also been working with several Council colleagues to add more conditions to the plan. Working with Blackfoot Elders has been a privilege and together we have, with Administration, developed some respectful ideas for how this culture and history can be honored at the site.
Why is this good for Calgarians? I have enjoyed the Slopes since 1978 when I first hiked the trails. I had the opportunity to tour the sites many times over the past couple of years with botanists, Blackfoot Elders, Parks experts, Alberta Culture officials and interested citizens.
The challenge is that the status quo, leaving it as is, is not an option. With our growing population more and more people are enjoying the Slopes. Mountain bikers have discovered this as a terrific place to enjoy their sport. Cross country skiers are seeking more trails and possibly snow making. While the current situation is not dire, the growing trend in levels of use is not sustainable in this environmentally sensitive area.
Approving the plan from the developer and receiving this dedicated land at no cost to the City in exchange for the development at the base is the right decision and achieves the right balance. The Slopes will be preserved as a City park. The neighbourhoods at the top of the escarpment will continue to enjoy their access and the pathway system, particularly on the slopes, which will remain intact.
I am working on amendments for second and third reading of this application to further enhance the project by protecting the environment and maintaining usable park space.
This content represents the personal views and opinions of the Ward 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.