News / Calgary

No word on release of environmental appeals decision for Calgary's southwest ring road

Alberta minister has appeals board decision but has yet to accept or reject it

Construction for Calgary’s ring road in the southwest.

Jennifer Friesen / for Metro

Construction for Calgary’s ring road in the southwest.

Calgarians who challenged the provincial government on its Southwest Ring Road construction practices near the Weaselhead are upset that an appeals board decision has not been made public.

The province's Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) heard arguments against the province's plan to fill in four wetlands along the southwest corner of Weaselhead Park and south of the park.

Jeff Brookman, one of the appellants, was told that the board's report on the matter was delivered to Environment Minister Shannon Phillips on Nov. 24.

Under the legislation, the appeals board writes a report with a recommendation, but the Environment Minister makes the final decision.

Brookman feels that as an appellant, he should also be entitled to a copy of the report. He's worried that the environment minister is delaying making a decision until it's too late to stop the project.

"If this was good news (…) this government would've press released this on Nov. 24 and made a big deal out of it – that the director hadn't erred, that it's all ok, and that the project will move forward."

Metro contacted the provincial government with questions about when the report would be made public.

In an email, a spokesperson said the department is reviewing the report and did not elaborate.

Brookman received a more detailed answer from Gilbert Van Nes, the EAB's general counsel and settlement officer, which cites the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act.

Under the legislation, the report is not to be made public until the minister makes a decision to accept or reject the recommendations.

Van Nes said the minister doesn't have a deadline to respond but usually does so within 60 days.

Brookman remains frustrated that the decision of an independent appeals board could be rejected by the minister, and that the public can't see the report.

"It's so annoying, after putting up with this and doing our civic duty, which is standing up for wetlands, we're denied a copy of the report."

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