Wards 13 and 14 and school board races pro­filed

Op­po­nents see park­ing prob­lem in the mak­ing

Calgary Herald - - FRONT PAGE - SHAWN LO­GAN slo­gan@post­media.com On Twit­ter: @ShawnLo­gan403

The hotly de­bated south­west BRT, which will ul­ti­mately see its ter­mi­nus in Ward 13, has be­come one of the key is­sues fac­ing would-be coun­cil­lors in a crowded race to take down a long-time in­cum­bent.

It’s been a rocky road for the pro­posed 22-kilo­me­tre tran­sit­way that will con­nect the down­town core to south­west com­mu­ni­ties and key in­sti­tu­tions like Mount Royal Univer­sity and Rock­yview Hos­pi­tal, be­fore hit­ting the end of the line in the quiet, tree-lined neigh­bour­hood of Woodbine.

For Scott Eden, pres­i­dent of the Wood­creek Com­mu­nity As­so­ci­a­tion, the $208-mil­lion project has res­i­dents in the ma­ture com­mu­nity alarmed over a feared in­flux of com­muters, who could park their ve­hi­cles in Woodbine to take ad­van­tage of the tran­sit­way.

“I think the ques­tion of whether this is some­thing the com­mu­nity wants or needs has never been fully an­swered,” said Eden, who noted the city’s con­sul­ta­tion with the com­mu­nity of­ten felt more like an edict. “There’s a big con­cern that the com­mu­nity could eas­ily be­come a park­ing lot.”

The pro­posed ter­mi­nus for the south­west BRT would be right on the edge of Fish Creek Park at 24 Street and Wood­park Boule­vard S.W., which has some in the com­mu­nity con­cerned the al­ready pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion will be­come sat­u­rated.

For 17 years, Diane Col­ley-Urquhart has rep­re­sented Ward 13. In Mon­day night’s vote, she will face a crowded field of six chal­lengers that in­cludes a for­mer Al­berta MLA, a for­mer lead­er­ship run­nerup for the Wil­drose Party, and an­other who had pre­vi­ously run for mayor of Leth­bridge.

The veteran coun­cil­lor said city ad­min­is­tra­tion hasn’t demon­strated the need for the project, par­tic­u­larly with the city fac­ing a $170 mil­lion bud­get short­fall when a new coun­cil re­con­venes to set its four-year bud­get.

“First and fore­most the south­west BRT needs to be put on ice with a new coun­cil,” she said. “There is no jus­ti­fi­ca­tion at all for this project to pro­ceed un­til the new com­mu­nity of Prov­i­dence is built out.”

Col­ley-Urquhart isn’t alone among Ward 13 can­di­dates ex­press­ing con­cerns about the plan. Once a two-term MLA with the for­mer Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive Party, Art John­ston is tak­ing a sec­ond stab at a mu­nic­i­pal of­fice af­ter los­ing a Ward 12 race in 2001, and has his own con­cerns over the pos­si­bly im­pact of the south­west BRT.

“When you look at the dis­rup­tion and the cost, (res­i­dents) just don’t feel that the rid­er­ship is there to jus­tify it right now. And I agree,” he said.

In 2009, Mark Dyrholm was run­ner-up to Danielle Smith for lead­er­ship of the Wil­drose Party and is now hop­ing for a ca­reer in mu­nic­i­pal pol­i­tics.

He noted that be­cause the south­west por­tion of Calgary’s ring road is well un­der­way, it will pro­vide tran­sit re­lief needed for south­west com­mu­ni­ties and that should be enough to scut­tle the tran­sit­way for now.

“We need to stop the BRT for now. Once the ring road is in place, there might be a dif­fer­ent strat­egy that works bet­ter,” said Dyrholm, a chi­ro­prac­tic doc­tor.

Adam Frisch, who has pre­vi­ously chal­lenged Col­ley-Urquhart for the Ward 13 seat, said the BRT plan re­mains flawed, and needs to go back to the draw­ing board.

The long­time com­mu­nity vol­un­teer wants to see it put on hold un­til the ring road is com­pleted and a new traf­fic study can be con­ducted.

“Ob­vi­ously, this plan has not been to ev­ery­one’s sat­is­fac­tion, oth­er­wise it still wouldn’t be such a con­cern,” he said.

“One of the so­lu­tions touted for a while is just to have res­i­den­tial park­ing per­mits for Woodbine, but that be­comes more ad­min­is­tra­tive and then we’re just adding to the cost.”

But the tran­sit line has a solid corps of de­fend­ers in the race as well.

Adam Boech­ler pre­vi­ously served two terms as vice-pres­i­dent ex­ter­nal for the Mount Royal Univer­sity Com­mu­nity As­so­ci­a­tion and be­lieves there’s a sig­nif­i­cant need to pro­vide mass tran­sit not only to the school, but to sub­ur­ban com­muters as well.

“I’m in favour of the BRT. I know stu­dents are thirsty to see some high-vol­ume tran­sit op­tion to get to the univer­sity,” he said. “And when you look at Woodbine, it’s a big black hole on the tran­sit ser­vice map.”

Kay Adeniyi, a Nige­rian im­mi­grant who works as a wa­ter tech­ni­cian, agrees that there is a need for bet­ter tran­sit con­nec­tions into south­west neigh­bour­hoods.

“Rid­er­ship of pub­lic tran­sit in Calgary is lower than be­fore, so we need to look at the sys­tem it­self to see if it needs ad­di­tional or dif­fer­ent routes,” said Adeniyi, who lost his bid for mayor of Leth­bridge as a univer­sity stu­dent in 2010. “To me. the BRT sounds like a great idea.”

For Sher­risa Celis, a se­niors’ ad­vo­cate, there could be a sig­nif­i­cant ben­e­fit of the BRT to mem­bers of the com­mu­nity des­per­ate for bet­ter tran­sit ac­cess.

“I be­lieve it will be more ad­van­ta­geous to the com­mu­ni­ties,” she said. “We have to think about stu­dents and those who go down­town and can’t af­ford park­ing. It will make it eas­ier to com­mute, and ac­cess to the hos­pi­tal will be im­por­tant as well.”

LEAH HENNEL

Scott Eden, pres­i­dent of the Wood­creek Com­mu­nity As­so­ci­a­tion, says there has been in­ad­e­quate con­sul­ta­tion on the BRT.

Mark Dyrholm

Adam Frisch

Diane Col­ley-Urquhart

Art John­ston

Kay Adeniyi

Adam Boech­ler

Sher­risa Celis

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