Tsuut'ina First Nation announced plans Monday for a massive series of commercial developments along a 10-kilometre stretch of Calgary's future southwest ring road.
"Tsuut'ina will be home to one of the largest, if not the largest, First Nations development partnerships in Canada," Chief Roy Whitney said, adding that the project has been "years in the making."
"This is why Tsuut'ina people, after much debate and voting, decided to approve the construction of the southwest Calgary ring road — not because of immediate cash benefits, because those are fleeting, but precisely because of a vision of what could be built in the traffic flow throughout our land."
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Working with Canderel, a Montreal-based development firm, the First Nation on Calgary's southwest city limit plans to undertake three major projects:
- Tsuut'ina Park is a planned entertainment, hospitality and retail development on about two square kilometres of land located south of Glenmore Trail between 37th Street and Sarcee Trail S.W. It would complement the existing Grey Eagle Resort and Casino in that area.
- Tsuut'ina Crossing would be built on about 1.5 square kilometres east of the ring road and west of Calgary's Oakridge community, stretching from the south end of Weaselhead Park to Southland Drive. It is to include a "major innovation and research campus" at the north end and an "integrated health and wellness area" at the south end, along with retail, office, and mixed-use developments in a "spectacular natural setting."
- Tsuut'ina Centre is intended to support a "major regional retail and commercial centre" on 1.5 square kilometres directly south of Bullhead Road and north of Fish Creek Provincial Park. The centre is to be "integrated with the administrative and community services of the Tsuut'ina Nation."
Whitney said the development is part of a long-term vision to create educational and employment opportunities on the First Nation and "allow generations of Tsuut'ina people to work and flourish, right here at home."
"On this land, we are grounded. It is our home, and it will be our home for as long as the Tsuut'ina people are here," he said.
"We have always been a proud people, but pride won't buy you a cup of coffee without a plan."
Canderel chairman and CEO Jonathan Wener said: "Tsuut'ina has been quietly, diligently and effectively working on this project for years."
He described the development potential of the area as "enormous," even as Calgary finds itself in the midst of an economic downturn.
"We are convinced this project is a prudent investment," Wener said.
"Calgary has weathered many storms and has always come back with a vengeance. We are very much looking forward to being an integral part of its long-term growth and success."
Wener said the project will be privately funded and more details will be announced in the next nine to 12 months, but the initial investments alone will total "in the hundreds of millions" of dollars.
Tsuut'ina aims to begin construction within two to three years.
Mayor Naheed Nenshi said he was "tremendously excited" about the project, especially its mixed-use components and what he described as "great architecture" in the conceptual plans.
"As the neighbours of this project, we are so looking forward to a beautiful development," Nenshi said.
"This is an incredibly important thing, and we know it's going to be extraordinary."
Coun. Brian Pincott, whose Ward 11 borders Tsuut'ina to the west, said there are important details to be worked out with respect to traffic planning but, overall, he supports the plan.
If it's done right, he said the project could be "a win for everybody."
"It is the ring road and those multiple connections that actually opens up the possibility of further development for the Tsuut'ina," he said.
"How that interfaces with the city of Calgary is going to be both for the success of Calgary and for the success of Tsuut'ina."
Where exactly will this all go?
This map depicts the Tsuut'ina Park component at the northern end of the development area:
This map depicts the Tsuut'ina Crossing component in the central part of the development area:
This map depicts the Tsuut'ina Centre component at the southern end of the development area:
Canderel also released this video detailing the project's vision: