Paskapoo development could get traditional Blackfoot name Medicine Hill

The developer of Trinity Hills wants to tie the project to its historic roots by recognizing past use of the area by the Blackfoot people. It wants to call the new community Medicine Hill and use Blackfoot words in the street names.

Developer wants to use Blackfoot words for new street names to recognize area's history

The developer behind Trinity Hills wants the new community on the East Paskapoo Slopes to be called Medicine Hill in honour of the area's Blackfoot heritage. (Trinity Development Group)

The Blackfoot history of the land at the foot of Paskapoo Slopes in northwest Calgary could be reflected in new street names and the name of the proposed community itself if a request from the developer is approved.

Representatives for Trinity Development Group will ask the Calgary Planning Commission this week to approve a new community name of Medicine Hill for the neighbourhood that will be part of the overall Trinity Hills project. 

The developer behind the mixed-use project wants to pay tribute to the Blackfoot history of that land.

That name was chosen by the developer as several Blackfoot elders indicated the land on the city's west side is a place of transition from the Rocky Mountains to the foothills.

The planning commission agenda item also mentions the land provides a "natural filtering system that helps heal the city."

Consult with elders

Trinity Hills plans to develop land for mixed use near Canada Olympic Park. (Trinity Hills)

Trinity is also proposing several Blackfoot words to serve as potential street names in the new community.

The list of proposed street names includes Piita (which means eagle), Na'a (Mother Earth), Saatoohtsi (west) and Natooyii (sacred).

A map released by Trinity currently includes plans for Na'a Drive S.W. and Piita Way S.W.

The developer said the names were chosen after consulting with Blackfoot elders about the historic use of the land by their ancestors.

"We felt that we should, in fact, recognize that as part of the names. So rather than some other naming process, we felt it was appropriate to recognize this historical context," said Greg Brown, who speaks for Trinity.

Big project

The developer's revised plan for building on the East Paskapoo Slopes next to Canada Olympic Park has met some resistance from local residents in the past. (CBC)

Earlier this year, city council approved Trinity's application to build new retail space, offices and condos on the land next to 16th Avenue N.W., to the west of Sarcee Trail. The development will break ground in mid-2016.

The project will be built on the lower portion of the Paskapoo Slopes, while the upper portion, about 65 hectares, has been donated to the city for a new regional park.

Trinity says the escarpment was used as a summer camp and as hunting grounds by the Blackfoot people for thousands of years.

The company intends to further recognize the Blackfoot people through public art and signage in the development.

Blackfoot names unique

The Save The Slopes group was formed to oppose the development. (SaveTheSlopes.org/Instagram)

Coun. Shane Keating, who sits on the planning commission, said it's an appropriate suggestion given the historical connection between the Blackfoot people and the area.

"Having the names there is extremely important. That's your heritage and the First Nations."

Keating said the suggestions fit within the city's naming policy, which call for names to recognize the heritage of an area, to honour prominent residents or to recognize a geographical feature.

While several major roads in Calgary — like Blackfoot Trail or Stoney Trail — are named in recognition of Treaty 7 Nations, it's believed these could be the first streets in the city to use authentic Blackfoot words.

If the planning commission approves the plan, it will go on to a future city council meeting for final debate.

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story contained incorrect translations, provided by the city, of the Blackfoot words proposed as street names in the Paskapoo Slopes development.
    Dec 04, 2015 11:39 AM MT