More residents along ring road route question changes to plan, province says compensation isn't coming
CALGARY -- More than a dozen residents of Woodbine are now speaking up about concerns they have with changes made to the route of the southwest ring road. They say the massive highway is now 10 metres higher and 50 metres closer to their homes, something that wasn’t properly communicated to them.
A pedestrian bridge over 37 Street S.W. also looms over several back yards in the community. Residents say the bridge was not part of initial plans released by the province in 2015.
“We recognized (the ring road) was going to happen and it was going to be near our yard, but we expected to be kept informed a little better,” said Crawford Hutchinson whose property now backs onto the ring road.
“The way this whole thing has been handled has been very disrespectful to the taxpayers that have lived here for 30-some years,” said Terry Gaulin, another homeowner who lives nearby.
The group, which gathered at the construction site Tuesday, say they’re in favour of the ring road project, but they object to the major changes they say were done without adequate consultation and communication.
“There’s some explaining that needs to be done and some compensation that needs to be made,” Gaulin said.
Alberta transportation minister Ric McIver acknowledged the project has changed slightly, but said it was still being built within the transportation utility corridor, which are provincial lands designated for large projects such as roadways, power lines and pipelines.
“There’s obviously been some engineering refinements — things that can’t be finalized until you get on site to do things — but what’s being built is essentially what’s been planned for several years now,” McIver said.
McIver added that the province isn’t considering any type of compensation for homeowners who say the project has negatively affected their property values.
“We try to make people as happy as we can. Not everybody is happy every time, but at the end of the day this is a widely-supported public works project that Calgarians and Albertans have been waiting decades for,” the transportation minister said.
McIver added that changes to the project at this point in construction would be costly and cause significant delays.
“The plans have changed considerably,” said Vince Henderson, another area homeowner.
“They should be reconsidering this. You look at the property values all of the way through Woodbine, they’ve all been heavily impacted.”
The southwest segment of the ring road is expected to be completed in 2021.