Plenty of trees part of design to revitalize areas impacted by line construction
With construction of the west LRT set to be completed in the spring of 2013, the City of Calgary unveiled plans for the landscaping that will occur in the southwest communities through which the new line will run.
Unlike previous open houses, which have dealt with issues such as road realignment, these public information sessions allowed residents to view and comment on landscaping plans to be implemented after the LRT construction is complete.
Members of the public were invited to two open houses to view and provide feedback on the proposed landscaping plans.
The first open house was held on Jan. 25 at the Rosscarrock Community Centre and the second on Jan. 26 at the Strathcona Community Association Hall.
At the open house held in in Rosscarrock, city staff, as well as landscape-design representatives, were on hand to answer questions from the public.
The event was, however, sparsely attended with the city staff and landscape-design representatives at times outnumbering members of the public.
According to information boards set up at the open house, the landscaping plans include "more than 1,700 trees and other plantings" to be placed along the west LRT line.
The west LRT construction zone runs along Bow Trail, 17th Avenue S.W., and Sarcee Trail.
Resident notes changes to area
Sharon Berling, a resident of the southwest community of Westgate, attended the open house held in Rosscarrock along with her two children. Although her family's home is not directly impacted by the landscaping plans, she says they have seen firsthand the changes that the project has brought to the area.
"I take the bus from Westbrook Mall everyday," she said. "My daughter takes the bus from father up on 45th Street and Bow Trail. We drive the whole route everyday, so we have been through all the changes and have seen things removed and not put back.
"We were just curious what it was all going to look like after the fact."
Berling has attended several of the open houses the city has held regarding the west LRT. She says it is a way she can "keep aware" of issues related to the west LRT.
She said she did have doubts about some of the new stations, and was curious what type of landscaping would be taking place.
"(The stations) are mostly cement, so there aren't a lot of trees and things," she said. But from the drawings on display at the Rosscarrock open house, Berling said the landscaping plans "look well thought out."
Green spaces and trees valued
Bonnie Kissack — who also lives in Westgate — said that while she is looking forward to the opening of the west LRT, it is important the landscaping plans involve the inclusion of plenty of green space.
"We need green spaces — and not just grass," she said. "We need lots of trees."
Kissack said she is concerned about the types of trees the landscaping process will involve.
"They took out a lot of mature evergreen trees," she said. "I have been asking if they are going put big trees back in.
"I would really like to see lots of trees, especially evergreens and conifers."
Copies of the landscaping plans obtained by the Calgary Journal show both medium and large-sized deciduous and coniferous trees — including birch, oak, and poplar — will be planted along the LRT route.
City of Calgary: landscaping affected by "constraints"
Christian Cormier, a spokesperson with the City of Calgary, said the landscaping plans aim to restore — to the extent possible — affected areas back to their pre-construction states.
"What we are trying to do is re-create, as close as possible, the landscape that existed prior to construction," he said.
"We need green spaces — and not just grass. We need lots of trees"
— Bonnie Kissack,
While feedback from residents and community associations was taken into account, Cormier pointed out that other factors also had to be considered in the drawing up of landscaping plans.
"There are constraints, such as the choice of plants that are robust enough to thrive in Calgary's climate," he said. "There are obviously budget constraints. There are right-of-way constraints.
"There are a number of constraints, and so the landscape architects have developed concepts based on those, plus, obviously, input from the communities."
Plans are available on the west LRT project's website.
- By KARRY TAYLOR