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Getting the show
on the road
Calgary's ring road controversy

First published April 22, 2013 | Unpublished from Calgary Journal at request of interviewee |

Photo courtesy of Jodi Egan | Story and videos by April Lamb, Jodi Egan and Sharday Isaac

There are two things the residents of Calgary love to complain about: the weather, and transportation. The former can’t be helped, but the latter is a topic that has been talked to death among citizens of this sprawling city.

To combat the transportation issue that has been a prominent one for decades, the ring road project was born in 1958. The road would provide a quick route for traffic to get around the city, or, for those just passing through, a way to avoid inner-city traffic.

The project quickly became a developmental headache for provincial and municipal planners, and continued to be for over 60 years.

Fast forward to 2013, many still see the project as necessary one, especially for residents who are trying to get from the north to the south — or vice versa — but find nothing but a parking lot on Macleod Trail or scattered accidents along Deerfoot Trail.

But the road, especially in the southwest, is still a big question mark on everyone’s mind. The big question being why is a road that has been on the books for 60 years still crawling to the finish line?

With talks finally re-opened between the province and the Tsuu T’ina, it looks like the Sarcee extension and the ring road project may be coming to fruition in the coming months.


Garry Lamb, head of the ring road project, says Calgary development has seen better days, and the current rate of growth and sprawl is stunting the planning process.


Though the project is seen as necessary to a lot of Calgarians, many do not want the road to destroy established parks or demolish houses. Protests and community outreach have impacted the road’s future, particularly the contentious southwest expansion. Jesse Salus, a Lakeview resident and self-proclaimed ring road historian, shares his thoughts.


Lee Crowchild, from the Tsuu T’ina Nation, says the city and the neighbouring Natives have had a rocky past, which is bleeding into present deals. The ring road was initially planned to go through their land, but shady dealings and a general lack of trust from both sides has made co-operation difficult.

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