Concerned Calgarians who support managing our land and natural resources in a more sustainable manner so we can achieve Alberta’s long-term economic, environmental and social goals ...
Our wetlands, river valleys and watersheds are very important for sustaining life, filtering our drinking water, absorbing flood waters, recharging the aquifer, providing a home to a diverse range of biodiversity ... when they are gone, they are gone forever.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has concluded that crystalline silica is carcinogenic to humans. We will advocate for your health & safety ...
Our Roots – Build a Better Bridge – YYC Cares was created by a group of concerned citizens that straddle the Southwest Calgary Ring Road (SWCRR) corridor. Rest assured we support the Southwest Ring Road, its improvements in mobility, economic development and job creation. However, we believe that development, as per our Legislation, must be managed in a sustainable manner and with respect for people, communities, the environment, biodiversity and cultural diversity.
Our initial focus was on trying to convince the Government of Alberta to build a clear span bridge across Calgary’s most biodiverse river valley, otherwise known as the Elbow River Valley. As the slide of the left indicates, this valley has a relatively flat bottom so flood waters can transgress across the entire 1 km floodway. Best floodplain management practices now provides room for the river to meander wherever it wants as 50-years of trying to control rivers has resulted in more harm than good. This fact is reinforced in Alberta Water Portal’s “Room for the River Pilot in the Bow River Basin“; an expert report for the Alberta Government that is based after the Dutch Room for the River project. Klohn Crippen Berger in a report for the City of Calgary also made a similar recommendation.
“Channel mobility in this reach of the Elbow River is naturally high. Attempting to control that mobility would be difficult and have morphological consequences upstream and downstream. Therefore further designs should accept and expect river mobility as much as possible. The design philosophy should be to protect the infrastructure (i.e. road embankment, bridge piers and abutments, and stormwater ponds) to an appropriate level, rather than to attempt to control the river.”
However, best practices have all been ignored.
As a result, the Elbow River Valley and all the amazing and wonderful biodiversity that inhabit this floodplain have experienced death by a thousand shovels, or in this case death by over 200,000 trucks loads of dirt filling in this beautiful valley. Given that this very large earthen berm crossing (a causeway) is adjacent to the Weaselhead Natural Environment Park (a park that is afforded the highest level of protection by Calgary Parks), YYC Cares is very concerned that fragmentation of the valley will result in a significant decline of the rich and diverse group of species that inhabit this valley, either during the fish spawning and bird nesting period, or throughout the year. Given that the approved South Saskatchewan Regional Plan requires our Government to consider the cumulative environment, social and economic aspects of a project, we are at a loss to explain why this has happened.
Wetlands – At the Alberta Irrigation Projects Association Conference (2013), a presentation was given related to the “Role of Wetlands” in Flood Attenuation“. In this presentation it was noted that the cumulative benefits, (including flood attenuation0 of existing wetlands throughout the landscape is significant and that the cumulative impacts of wetland loss are significant. In addition to slowing water flow during floods, wetlands hold water during droughts (recharge the aquifer) and replenish water into the atmosphere through evaporation. Wetland vegetation also helps purify water before it recharges the water table (eliminating 90 per cent of phosporus and water-borne pathogens) and wetlands are a home to a diverse range of biodiversity. Moreover, it is estimated that 35 per cent of this country’s rare and endangered species depend on wetlands in some form or fashion. However, all is not well. Ducks Unlimited have estimated that 70 per cent of the wetlands have already been lost across the Canadian prairies, a landscape that supports 60 per cent of North America’s water fowl. More importantly, the City of Calgary has estimated that 90 per cent of the pre-settlement wetlands in Calgary have been lost to development.
Cumulative effects management was supposed to become an environmental management priority through the Alberta Land Stewardship Act, the business plan priorities of Alberta Environment & Parks, and through the approved South Saskatchewan Regional Plan. However, regional cumulative effects management was not used in the Water Act Approval for infilling 24 wetlands associated with the Southwest Calgary Ring Road (SWCRR) and the approval was based on 1993 legislation as opposed to the current 2013 legislation, i.e. the Alberta Wetland Policy (2013), which has a mitigation strategy of “avoid, minimize, relocate”, was not even considered. Given that this approval went straight to relocate or compensate (no attempt to avoid or minimize the adverse impacts to the wetlands), members of YYC Cares flied appeals with the Environmental Appeals Board (the “Board”). The Board’s recommendation and report was provided to the Minister of Environment on November 24, 2017. However, this report was not provided to the appellants or the public. What is this Government trying to hide and where is this Government’s commitment to openness and transparency?
Wentworth Gravel Pit – The West Springs/Cougar Ridge (WSCR) Community Association, together with area residents, has been advocating against the gravel pit that is located dangerously close to the homes in West Springs and Wentworth. As can be seen on the Google Earth image (lower left), rather than being a safe 500 m away from a residential district a gravel pit that creates crystalline silica ( a class 1carcinogen according to the International Agency on for Research on Cancer), is almost at the patio door for these unfortunate Calgarians. While Alberta Transportation tries to tell all that are concerned for their health and safety that the contractor is in compliance with the Canada Wide Standard (CWS) for total suspended particulates (TSP), partiuclate matter PM10 and PM2.5 for a 24 hour period, they fail to address the annual level of exposure (PM 2.5 0.010 mg/m3, soon to be 0.008 mg/m3) and the exposure levels allowed under Alberta’s Occupational health Safety (OHS) legislation, which are far less (see the Golder report). For example, while the CWS 24 hour exposure for PM2.5 is 0.028 mg/m3, the 8-hour rule under OHS is 0.025 mg/m3 but the 12-hour exposure level is only 0.012 mg/m3. Given that the residents live here 24/7, surely the alarms on the detectors should be set for 0.012/m3. However, as can be seen in the recent news article where Councillor Jeff Davison has to intervene, up until recently, all of the monitoring equipment was all upwind. Just so everyone understands, upwind air monitoring stations are in place to determine the ambient back ground levels of particular matter in the air. The downwind stations (absent) are there to monitor a) the percentage increase above ambient levels, b) keep a historic record of the air quality downwind from the gravel pit and crusher, and c) trigger alarms if the air quality becomes unsafe. Why Alberta Transportation has failed to comply with this rational and safe practice is beyond explanation. Further, gravel pits are supposed to also monitor the wind velocity because when wind velocity increases beyond 16 kph, there is an increased uplift in gravel pit dust and particulate matter. Given that this is a traditionally windy location, we are at a loss to explain why it was even selected because under best management practices it would be should down most of the time for being too windy.
To see how far the dust has spread, please click on this link to see pictures of an ice rink 500 m to the east of the operation.
Note the following information regarding silicosis:
(1) Chronic Silicosis: Usually occurs after 10 or more years of exposure at relatively low concentrations. Swellings caused by the silica dust form in the lungs and chest lymph nodes. This disease may cause people to have trouble breathing and may be similar to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
(2) Accelerated Silicosis: Develops 5–10 years after the first exposure. Swelling in the lungs and symptoms occur faster than in chronic silicosis.
(3) Acute Silicosis: Develops after exposure to high concentrations of respirable crystalline silica and results in symptoms within a period of a few weeks to 5 years after initial exposure [Parker and Wagner 1998; Peters 1986]. The lungs become very inflamed and can fill with fluid, causing severe shortness of breath and low blood oxygen levels.
Then there is the issue with compliance with noise legislation. Gravel pits and crushers are noisy, see figure 15 in this report on Noise and Worker Exposures in Sand an Gravel Operations. To lean more click below..
Overbuild – Most of the Calgary Ring Road (Stoney Trail) is 6-lanes wide and in some places its 8. The road has been built to accommodate up to 10-lanes. However, the southwest portion of this ring road, known as the SWCRR, is being built to accommodate 16-18 lanes. To understand why, we suggest that you take a look at this image of the inner and outer ring roads. As can be seen in the image, both the inner and outer lanes of the ring road have a single point of crossing across the Tsuu T’ina Nation lands. However, as opposed to making a design that is akin to that in any large metropolitan area, such as Toronto with 16-lanes of highway 401 fitting in 98 m of road right of way, Alberta Transportation through their contractor is implementing a design that takes up 220 m of the 285 m wide transportation utility corridor (the “TUC”). Further, rather than building the inner lanes first, which keeps the road and noise pollution away from residential areas, wetlands and environmentally sensitive areas, Alberta Transportation is building the outer lanes first. This means that the road is very close to homes and without sound barriers. This also means that the median in the middle of the road is 100-150 m wide, and with this width the 401 could fit in the median with room to spare (click this link to see what else can fit into this overbuilt road). More importantly, this design contradicts the June 14, 2017 Minister of Transportation letter cancelling the “Outer Ring Road”. As can be seen in this letter, Alberta Transportation’s latest strategic planning initiative has concluded that over the next 10-years we are going to see more changes in the way people use transportation systems than we have in the last 50-years. They also state that given these rapid changes in transportation systems and as demographics and technology change, we need to ensure that we are not planning to encourage urban sprawl. Consequently, this letter concludes with “Outer ring roads do not align with that vision and I would like to confirm that future network planning will not include outer ring roads”.
We believe that the Minister was correct when he cancelled the Outer Ring Road. Today we are already seeing the advent of autonomous vehicles and car sharing (Car to Go) where you use the vehicle when you need it, as opposed to leaving it in a garage all day. Further companies like Lilium are already combining Tesla, Nvidia and electric batter technologies all into a vertical take-off and landing jet. Shades of Blad Runner but in 2018. Plus even London England with 8.6 million people has an 8-lane ring road (the “M25”) that serves its purpose. So why would Alberta Transportation even consider and Outer Ring Road if and when Calgary’s population reaches 2.3 million? Consequently, while we support the concept of the SWCRR and its improvements in mobility, economic benefits and job creation, YYC Cares views the SWCRR as a colossal and unnecessary overbuild, which is costing tax payers hundreds of million dollars more than we can afford to spend. Given the current protracted and non-forecasted economic downturn and the escalating Provincial debt, we have challenged this overbuild both within the Environmental Appeals Board process and through a discipline inquiry with APEGA.
Support Our Friends
Support Our Friends