News / Calgary

Alberta Minister's comments on Outer Ring road has Calgarians confused

Coun. Shane Keating is baffled by Transportation Minister Brian Mason's comments

Pictured is Minister of Transportation Brian Mason.

Metro File Photo

Pictured is Minister of Transportation Brian Mason.

The first rule about the outer ring road is we don't talk about the outer ring road – at least not for a few decades. 

Minister Brian Mason's comments Wednesday about the mythical "outer ring road" had some people scratching their heads. 

According to his office, the minister was asked about urban sprawl and protecting agricultural land at the AAMDC. His response made a passing mention of the department's talks on an outer ring road, something that's been part of a discussion on what needs Calgary may have three decades from now.

The move to publicly talk on a project that's not in a design phase, and won't be planned or needed for another 60 or more years baffled Coun. Shane Keating, who is the chair of the city's Transportation and Transit committee. 

"I'm not sure where he's going with it," said Keating. "I know there's always pre-planning. But that's usually done in-house…You don't start publicly talking about a second ring road that will certainly not happen for, my guess is, 50 or 60 years at the earliest, when you have other issues which are so much more pressing than that." 

Keating said he hasn't heard about the idea himself and was surprised to see the minister talking openly about it. 

"We're having a hard time even getting the provincial government to say: 'you know what, we support the Green Line, when the application comes in and it fits the criteria, we'll fund it." said Keating. "We can't even get that out of them yet they're willing to talk publicly about an outer ring road – I think it's slightly misplaced." 

He said if there's a need, there's no question the government should be planning for an outer ring road, but they have only committed to one eighth of the current ring road project. 

Jeff Binks, president of LRT on the Green, said it's interesting that the attention of the ministry is focused on a ring road that's 50 years in the future. 

"We still haven't got a clear indication from their office on what we'll be doing about a Green Line funding deadline that's looming in September," Binks said. He added the project has the potential to take a lot of traffic off the roads and although it's important to be moving goods around the city, the public transit network should factor into any future decisions. "If in 60 years, Calgary's at a point where we require a second ring road, I think we'll have failed a future generation of Calgarians with our transportation network and city planning."

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