Conflicts surrounding the continuation of the Southwest Calgary ring road construction
by robnot on October 6, 2017 - 2:17pm
The provincial government of Calgary has stated that, despite environmental concerns, it is going to continue to construct the southwest Calgary ring road. The project is to cost the taxpayer $1.42 billion and will run through the wetlands surrounding the local area. These wetlands are of importance to environmentalists. This is to preserve the biodiversity of the area and maintain their habitats. The company, KGL Constructors, has been granted permission to fill in 24 of the wetlands permanently in order to construct the road. Four of these wetlands is said to be directly connected to the beaver pond in the Weaselhead area and is a popular attraction for visitors and local people. A public affairs officer, Adam Johnson, stated that the road has been under scrutiny and that they have taken all the steps necessary to minimize the risks posed to the habitat. He also stated that the road plan has been changed twice to accommodate these concerns and that new vegetation would be planted in order to further buffer the road from impacting the environment.
The environmentalists proposed that the government could build a “clear-span bridge” instead of a road through the wetlands. A clear-span bridge would mean that the road would be raised about the area and, in turn, cause less disruption to the biodiversity the reside in the valley. However, this proposal was thwarted as Mr Johnston said that with a project of this magnitude that there was no way to avoid the wetlands and that in order to try and reduce the effect that they were donating money to Ducks Unlimited. Ducks Unlimited is a non-profit, volunteer-based, organization that specializes in conservation of wetlands.
This shows a conflict of values. The environmentalists value the species habitat and the maintenance of the species biodiversity. Whereas it can be argued that the government values mostly the construction of the road and costs associated with building the road. There is also a cognitive conflict as the environmentalists will understand the importance of the wetlands more so that the government. Also, the local knowledge from the people that love in and around the wetland area means that they will have a deeper understanding of the biophysical dynamics of the ecosystems. Whereas the government and construction company does not have these understandings. There is also an element of conflict of interest. In the environmentalists and locals mind, they are not the ones who will benefit from the project but will indeed incur a cost through the loss of the wetland and biodiversity. On the other hand, the government is interested in the construction of the road but with minimal cost and disruption. But it can be argued that the decision to go ahead with the road and not construct the clear-bride is putting cost above the conservation of the environment. There is also an element of discursive power being utilized to try and convince the public that the road has exhausted all viable options. The use of spokes men such as Adam Johnston and other construction experts can be argued to be trying to quell the concerns of the public.
Not is all lost though. An appeal to the Environmental Appeals Board will hold a hearing on the water licensing issues on 12-13th October.
CBC News. (2017). Construction of southwest ring road will destroy popular beaver pond, protesters say. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/weaselhead-protest-beaver-pond-1.4227960
CBC News. (2017). Southwest Calgary ring road construction continues despite environmental appeals. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/southwest-calgary-ring-road-appeals-construction-continue-1.4284951
CBC News. (2017). Work stoppage on Calgary ring road upheld. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/stay-construction-calgary-ring-road-appeal-1.4254293
Mitchel, B. (2004). Resource and Environmental Management in Canada. Oxford University Press. Canada.
Zedler, J. B. (2004). Compensating for wetland losses in the united states. Ibis, 146(SUPPL.1), 92-100. doi:10.1111/j.1474-919X.2004.00333.x