A non-profit parks group has launched an ambitious pathway project that would eventually follow roughly the same route as Calgary's future ring road.

Parks Foundation Calgary hopes to start building the first phase of the East Calgary Greenway this summer with a 10-kilometre leg of open spaces, pathways and wetlands between 17th Avenue S.E. and Airport Trail N.E.

'Today Parks Foundation of Calgary is telling the city that we dare to dream big and to do big.' —Myrna Dubé, Parks Foundation Calgary

"It will build on Calgary's extensive pathway network as well as signal a new era for our organization," said Myrna Dubé, the group's president.

The $6 million project, announced on Wednesday at Elliston Park, is the foundation's largest-ever undertaking since it was created in 1985 and aims to be the beginning of a 120-kilometre band of pathways that roughly follow Calgary's ring road.

"I say it will roughly follow, because many of the details still have to be worked out," said Dubé. "But I think you can imagine a wide pathway that will go right around this wonderful city.

"Today, Parks Foundation of Calgary is telling the city that we dare to dream big and to do big."


Deputy Mayor Joe Ceci, centre, lines up to cut a ceremonial ribbon on Wednesday. ((CBC))

Deputy Mayor Joe Ceci announced that the City of Calgary is committing $2 million to the first phase of the pathway, which will benefit almost 245,000 people in the area.

"This was supported unanimously at council," Ceci said. "There was not one person who had a concern about the redirection of funds towards this project."

The land is owned by the province, which has already approved its use. Part of the project will restore or replace natural wetlands affected by construction of the ring road, said the group.

"If you ask Calgarians what they like most about Calgary, the answer you'll get most of the time is its pathways. People absolutely love them. And it's easy to see why," said Jim Davidson, chair of Parks Foundation Calgary's fundraising campaign.

"We believe Calgarians' passion for pathways will translate into additional support for our project."

Calgary has 660 kilometres of paved pathways.