City council has passed the first reading of a rezoning application that paves the way for a controversial development on Paskapoo Slopes.

Developer Trinity Hills wants to build a mixed-use project on 100 hectares of land along 16th Ave N.W. just east of Canada Olympic Park.

After nearly 15 hours of debate, Calgary city councillors voted 12-3 in favour Wednesday night. The issue goes back to council on Monday.

Councillor Brian Pincott was one of the few councillors to vote against the approval.

"The Paskapoo Slopes are a very special area and we should do everything we can to protect them. I didn't think this plan does enough to do that."

paskapoo slopes

Some young residents of Cougar Ridge express their views about plans to develop the East Paskapoo Slopes. (SaveTheSlopes.org/Instagram)

The developer plans to build a new interchange at its own expense on Sarcee Trail south of 16th Avenue to improve access to the site. It wants to start clearing land later this year and start construction next spring. 

The proposal is to develop about one-third of the area at the foot of the hill, and turn the remaining two-thirds of the land over to the city for a new regional park. The Calgary Planning Commission recently approved the application.

More work to come, says Nenshi

Mayor Naheed Nenshi, who voted against the application along with Pincott and Druh Farrell, said earlier that there's more work to be done on the proposal. 

"The recommendation of the Calgary Planning Commission is to provide first reading, which is sort of approval in principle, and withhold second and third readings until a whole bunch of things are decided around the design of the Sarcee interchanges, other transportation issues [and] some financing questions," he said.

Public opposition is significant. About 10,000 people have signed a petition against this proposal and 222 pages of letters from the public are included in the agenda.

City council heard from many people who don't want to see any development on the Paskapoo Slopes site, people who talked about the cultural and archeological significance of the greenspace. They say once it's gone, it will be gone forever.

Sydney Empson with the Bowness Community Association spoke against the idea.

"We can always find places to build shopping malls and hotels but park space of this quality, both environmentally and culturally, is rare indeed," she said. 

Trinity Hills Development at Paskapoo Slopes

A map showing development plans at Paskapoo Slopes. (Trinity Hills)