Glenmore reservoir pathway expansion kicks off with questions

Glenmore Reservoir's $2.9-million expansion kicked off Tuesday, with some local residents asking why.

$2.9M pathway expansion will link to trails in North Glenmore Park and along Glenmore Trail Causeway

The red dotted line in this map shows where crews have begun to build an expansion to the Glenmore Reservoir Regional Pathway, near the Earl Grey Golf Club. (City of Calgary)

Construction has begun to add nearly two more kilometres of pathway along the Glenmore Reservoir, which would make one of the city's most popular trails even closer to continuous.

The project will add 1.85 kilometres — and two bridges — to create a path along the crest of the reservoir by the Earl Grey golf course, at a cost of $2.9 million.

It will include a three-metre wide pathway that connects with paths in North Glenmore Park and along the Glenmore Trail Causeway, according to the City of Calgary website.

Crews will build a three-metre-wide asphalt pathway along the crest of the Glenmore Reservoir, connecting the existing pathway network in North Glenmore Park with the pathway network along the Glenmore Trail Causeway. (City of Calgary)

Currently, people using the trails must make a lengthy detour through nearby residential neighbourhoods before returning to the edge of the reservoir.

"This new pathway link will strengthen the connection of a continuous public pathway around Glenmore Reservoir, providing spectacular views and recreational amenities to all Calgarians," the city said on its website.

Crews will also have to remove 31 trees. The city says it will plant two replacement trees for every one removed, in the closest and most suitable locations available.

Need for pathway expansion questioned

The price tag and tree loss don't necessarily sit well with some of the Calgarians who were using the nearby trails on Tuesday morning.

"It seems like an awful lot of work for a little bit of pathway," said Jeff Wilson. "On a per-metre basis, it's (also) pretty expensive."

Cyclist Joan Kitchen agreed.

Cathy Steiner and Jeff Wilson say the Glenmore Reservoir expansion is a lot of money for a short bit of trail. (Justin Pennell/CBC)

"I'm very happy with the bike trail the way it is," she said.

"That's a lot of money, especially with Calgary the way it is, with the recent problems with the (costs around the) ring road. That's a lot of money."

"We could (better) spend the money improving other bike pathways," said Cathy Steiner. "We could spend the money on other city projects."

Earl Grey Golf Club gets upgrade

The upgrade has meant a disruption for Earl Grey Golf Club, which has closed early for the season. It's spending $5.9 million to do upgrades on 10 holes.

Jason Lin, senior structural engineer with the city said the timing is right for the project because of that work on the course and the fact the city just signed a new lease with the club. 

Still, Steiner says she can see danger ahead when it reopens in 2018.

"I think it's actually going to be a bit of a dangerous plan," she said. "I can see walking along here with golf balls flying around, and it's also a pretty narrow pathway so that there are cyclists and walkers of all levels with the same pathway."

'That's a lot of money, especially with Calgary the way it is,' says Joan Kitchen, who cycles regularly on the Glenmore Reservoir trail. (Justin Pennell/CBC )

Wilson pointed out that while trail users might get more of a view from the reservoir's edge, it won't solve existing issues.

"You still end up with the same inherent problem, which is congestion, multiple use of cyclists, walkers and dog walkers, so it seems like a lot of money for what we've already got," Wilson said.

According to the City of Calgary, construction on the upgrades to the golf course are anticipated to be completed by winter 2017.

Lin said construction on the rest of the pathway is expected to be completed by the end of spring 2018.

Pathway along top of dam also to close soon

Pedestrians and cyclists also soon lose access to the top of the Glenmore Dam for three years as it undergoes a $82-million renovation to improve flood protection on the Elbow River.

The renovation means the dam must be closed to the public starting this fall until 2020 while utility lines are removed and a new structure is built for the operation of steel control gates.

Those gates will mean better protection for downstream Calgary communities against minor flood damage.