A community divided

Lakeview ring road letter drives controversy

It sounded innocuous at first: a letter from the Lakeview Community Association to the province and the City of Calgary to reconsider plans for a portion of the Southwest Ring Road that would link the neighbourhood to a Tsuut’ina development. If you’re wondering what could possibly go wrong, the answer is just about everything.

The letter was prompted by concerns that some Lakeview residents expressed about increased traffic that might come with the new $4.5-billion development planned for the Tsuut’ina First Nation. The development would include retail, residential and entertainment elements, and at least one access point at the 5600 block of 37th Street S.W.

In the letter, the association requested a meeting with the province to “re-engage discussion about the proposed design of the transportation projects that will affect the Lakeview community.”

“There are a lot of unanswered questions about the ring road and its impact on our community,” said Joann Burke, president of the Lakeview Community Association. “What does the traffic volume look like coming out of that development? Why do we need three additional access points into Lakeview? Our letter was intended to start a dialogue with the City of Calgary and the province to make them aware of the safety issues and potential for increased traffic in a residential community.”

When the contents of the letter were initially kept from interested residents, the controversy began, culminating in the resignation of several association board members, including then-president Geoffrey Vanderburg.

“When a majority of residents at our March meeting voted to pursue ‘alternative options’ to the long-term plan for 37th Street, the board took that and put its own interpretation on it,” said Vanderburg. “The vote didn’t mean that we wanted to cut off all access between Lakeview and the Tsuut’ina reserve, but that’s how it was treated by our association.”

In response to the letter, Vanderburg and other former board members are communicating their own message regarding the development.

“We want to ensure that the City, province and Tsuut’ina First Nation are aware that we are a community divided,” said Vanderburg. “If everyone thinks Lakeview is united in its desire to build a wall, we will lose the opportunity to build bridges. The association does not represent the views of all community members, and if we get that message across, we will maintain the positive relationships we have enjoyed with our neighbours for many years.”

For her part, Burke hopes this controversy doesn’t put Lakeview in a negative light going forward.

“Of the 180 community associations in Calgary, we have the highest level of membership,” said Burke. “The association organized a preschool program, soccer program, wine nights and a ton of other things that enhance the community. Lakeview should not be defined by this issue, but as a wonderful place to live and raise a family.”

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