Crescent Heights ponders impact of going ‘Greenline’

The Greenline LRT dialogue has moved north of the Bow River, as the communities of Crescent Heights and Tuxedo Park have begun discussing the future of Centre Street North.

Community residents and urban planners met at the Crescent Heights Community Association on Sept. 26, to talk about the new Greenline LRT north of downtown.

The evening kicked off a week-long charette in the neighbourhood, in which residents were invited to take part in conversations about the most anticipated transit project Calgary has seen to date.

“We’re looking at this as a city-shaping project,” said John Forsdick from the City of Calgary.

“It’s the biggest the city has ever taken on.”

This event came less than a week after the Standing Policy Committee on Transportation and Transit’s Greenline quarterly update, in which council moved to investigate an underground 12 Avenue South option in the Beltline.

Council also voted in favour of an underground option through Chinatown, Eau Claire, and downtown, which is expected to include a tunnel under the Bow River.

“It was a momentous day,” said Jon Lea, the senior transit planner at the City of Calgary.

The project, which was officially approved by council in Jan. 2015, is projected to be fully mapped out by June of next year.

City planners believe that charettes serve to streamline the process of design as well as public engagement.

Resident Roundtable: Residents of Crescent Heights and Tuxedo Park meet at the Crescent Heights Community Association in Calgary on Monday, Sept. 26, 2016, to discus the Greenline LRT project. The event, put on by the City of Calgary, encouraged members of the community to provide feedback and recommendations for the upcoming transit line. (Photo by Deborah Mebude/The Press)

“We need to have these discussions to make sure we get the best results,” said Lea.

Hosted by the city, these events include citizens in the ongoing conversation, and encourage feedback in real time.

This commentary has been shown to be a helpful tool, as work is under way to roll out the transit network that will span some 40 km.

“The Greenline is a huge public investment. We really take this input seriously,” said Lea.

“We want to get community vision, it helps us inform council of what the community wants.”

Lea Leads the Way: Jon Lea, senior transit planner at the City of Calgary, poses during The City of Calgary’s discussion of the Greenline LRT project at the Crescent Heights Community Association in Calgary on Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. Residents were encouraged to participate in a Charette, designed to get feedback and recommendations for the upcoming transit line. (Photo by Deborah Mebude/The Press)

Residents were arranged in groups of six to 10, and told to give input regarding what they perceive to be positive and negative implications of the project.

Some community residents are embracing the expansion with open arms.

“I think it’s good,” said Chris Arms, a resident of Crescent Heights.

We’re looking at this as a city-shaping project. – Jon Forsdick

“I’ll probably use transit more as I get older. With the Greenline, I can connect to anywhere in the city.”

Others, however, are unsure about what to expect from the system.

“I’m still on the fence about what direction it will take,” said John McDermid, of the proposed 9 Avenue North station, which has been a major point of contention for many in the community.

“I think more certainty around Ninth Avenue, and more community engagement, is needed,” he said.

Illustrating the Issues: Visual practitioner Sam Hester illustrates live at the Crescent Heights Community Association in Calgary on Monday, Sept. 26, 2016, for The City of Calgary’s discussion of the Greenline LRT project. The City put on a Charette in the Crescent Heights and Tuxedo Park community, encouraging residents to provide feedback in real time. Hester works as a full time illustrator, and is excited about the new transit project. (Photo by Deborah Mebude/The Press)

Even so, those at at the city are convinced that the coming development is just what Calgary needs.

“Centre Street has the potential to be great,” said Andrew Browne from the IBI Group, an urban design consultancy.

As the phases continue to come together, the city plans to keep the conversation going.

“Implementation will happen over a number of years and decades,” said Brian McCarter from ZGF Architects, which also works in urban design

“Development wants to be where the action is and where the people are.”

About Deborah Mebude 3 Articles
As a writing and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Deborah Mebude is working as a reporter for The Press during the 2016-17 academic year.