Members of the Tsuu T'ina First Nation vote on Thursday whether to accept a deal with the province to construct the southwest leg of Calgary’s ring road on their land.
The province reached a tentative deal with the band’s leadership last month to build the next portion of Stoney Trail through the reserve.
Cory Cardinal, who grew up on Tsuu T'ina but now lives in Calgary, says he has no idea what the outcome will be but it's taking a toll on the people.
"It's stressful on family and friends when this keeps coming up and it becomes a boiling point where it pits friends versus friends and relatives versus relatives and I think some people just want this to go away," he said.
Cardinal says those in favour like the economic benefits but that is tempered against the loss of land, history and a general mistrust of the government.
- Listen to his full interview on the Calgary Eyeopener below:
A spokesperson with Tsuu T'ina is asking for some privacy today as members of the First Nation on Calgary's western edge weigh the pros and cons of the latest deal before casting their ballots.
About 1,000 people on the reserve are eligible to cast a ballot. The results of the vote will be released tomorrow.
The southwest portion of the ring road would let motorists get from Highway 8 (Glenmore Trail) south to Highway 22x (Spruce Meadows Trail) along the city's western edge.
Details of new deal not released
Transportation Minister Ric McIver said he will not release details about the deal until after the vote. However, he said last month it was similar to the 2009 plan.
- Click on this link to see the rejected 2009 agreement. Pages 29 to 36 contain detailed maps of the southwest ring road, which are also posted below.
The new route would ease traffic congestion in Calgary, taking pressure off Deerfoot Trail, Macleod Trail, 14th Street and 37th Street, McIver said.
“Having a ring road that's round instead of horseshoe shaped, it will be of great benefit to all Calgarians and Albertans,” he said.
In 2009, band members voted to reject a proposed deal with the province. It would have seen the Tsuu T’ina get $240 million and 2,000 hectares of Crown land in exchange for 400 hectares of aboriginal land on which to build the road.
The new agreement took a year and a half to negotiate, McIver said.
Derek Fildebrandt, with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, says that is not enough information since Albertans are footing the bill.
"Our ministers are supposed to be our representatives, but we're the shareholders in this," he said. "And the fact is that even if this is a very justified and needed building program we should see the details on this deal before it's signed off on."
Southeast leg opening delayed
The southeast leg of the project was scheduled to be ready for traffic by Oct. 1, but its opening has been delayed while the province waits for the results of a final safety audit.
That 25-kilometre leg of Stoney Trail stretches from 17th Avenue S.E. to Highway 22x.