Homes and businesses need to be cleared for new transit line

With city council's approval for a new Calgary transit line, plans will go ahead to acquire land to make way for construction.

With city council's approval of Calgary's new west leg of the C-Train, plans will go ahead to acquire land —including homes, businesses and churches—to make way for construction.

About 60 properties stand in the path of the newlight railroute, including homes along 17th Avenue Southwest as well as Bow Trail, businesses at the Westbrook Mall and possibly even Ernest Manning High School. The route was first proposed in the 1980s and was approved Tuesday.

Nellie Chabra has lived in her house on 17th Avenue Southwest since 1955. She's known for years that her home is in the way of LRT construction, but she worries about finding an affordable place to live.

"The price, and at my age, at 85, to move somewhere else, it will never be the same," she told CBC News.

St. Mina Coptic Orthodox Church and the New Apostolic Church, which is set to celebrate its 50th anniversary, are both in the way of the development and may have to be demolished.

Marilou Stegmeier, president of the Rosscarrock Community Association and member of a planning committee for the new line, said details have yet to be worked out for the LRT construction, such as what side of the road it will occupy and whether it will be aboveor below ground.

"I think for the businesses that are along the route, it is still a wait-and-see for when the city is going to contact them for what the plan is," she said.

The area's alderman said he hopes to avoid demolishing some buildings by tunnelling under them.

"I campaigned on a platform of minimum disruption to existing communities, and what I'd like to see there, and it may be possible, is to perhaps put it underground," Ward 6 Ald. Joe Connelly said.

But transit planners say tunnels won't save any structures.

"If there is a building there now, we'll need to dig a trench, then the building will have to be purchased and demolished," said Neil McKendrick, the city's manager of transit planning.

McKendrick said he's sympathetic, but the city has warned people the C-Train has been coming for the last two decades.

The city said it won't start contacting affected property owners until next year, after city council approves a land acquisition plan.

It's estimated 40,000 people will ride trains daily from the west side to downtown when the line opens in 2012.