News / Calgary

Citizens call for bridge instead of berm in the Weaselhead

Province and city say berm is safe and acceptable way to bridge the gap

Allie Tulick is part of YYC Cares, a group pushing the province to build a bridge over wetlands in the Weaselhead.

Brodie Thomas / Metro

Allie Tulick is part of YYC Cares, a group pushing the province to build a bridge over wetlands in the Weaselhead.

With a tight deadline, the race is now on to complete the southwest ring road, but some city residents are asking the province to reconsider the road’s impact on the Weaselhead.

Allie Tulick says her group YYC Cares wants the province to build a bridge similar to the one done over the Bow at Stoney Trail, rather than building a raised berm through much of the Weaselhead.

“The wetlands’ ability to absorb floodwaters is 1.5 million gallons per acre,” said Tulick. “This is huge for flood mitigation. They’ve already filled in 100 to 200 acres.”

She said the solution is simple – to build a raised structure over the wetlands.

“We’ve had engineers take a look and say, ‘Why don’t we just do what’s over the Bow?’ said Tulick. “A clear span, but a lower one and not as fancy.”

Tulick is worried that the province is going with the cheapest and fastest option, given the requirement to complete the Southwest Ring Road by a deadline.

Under the land transfer agreement with the Tsuut’ina First Nation, the road must be complete by 2022, or else the land will revert back to the Tsuut’ina.

She and others in the group are not convinced that the berm will withstand floodwaters over time.

“That river is going to breach that berm and it’s not going to stay in its channel,” she said.

The city expressed similar concerns about waterflow in a January 2015 letter to the province.

Since that time, independent engineering firm Klohn Crippen Berger looked at the city’s concerns and came up with recommendations that satisfied both the province and the city.

Frank Frigo, engineer with the City of Calgary, said one of the recommendations was widening the opening in the berm where the river will pass through. It increased the size of the gap to 157 metres, which is 50 per cent wider than what the province initially planned.

He said the compacted earth will withstand flood events.

“Part of the reason earth fill does make sense – it is very stable and it has minimal lifecycle costs,” said Frigo. ”It’s a robust approach with low risk of failure.”

Tulick’s group is holding an open house on Wednesday night – Strathcona Christie Aspen Community Centre from 6-8 pm.

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