Southwest ring road land transfer approved by federal government
Job now up to the new NDP government to get the project completed within 7 years
The federal government has approved changes to the boundaries of the Tsuu T'ina Nation, clearing the way for the southwest ring road deal to go ahead.
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More than 400 hectares of Tsuu T'ina land needed for the freeway have now been transferred to the provincial government, while 2,000 hectares of provincial Crown land is now part of the Tsuu T'ina reserve.
Tsuu T'ina Chief Roy Whitney described the approval as "major milestone on the way to the final completion of the S.W. ring road deal, and the commencement of construction."
"This is an important day for Tsuu T'ina, one that helps us see the benefit of the work that has been done to date," he said in a release.
Whitney says the southwest ring road will stimulate economic development on a major scale for the nation.
"We look forward to presenting those plans to Tsuu T'ina people first at upcoming internal meetings," he said.
In addition to land, the province will give the band $275 million and pay roughly $66 million to replace housing and other buildings that will have to be torn down to make way for the ring road. The nation has not yet said if Tsuu T'ina members will get some of the money.
The $5-billion ring road will stretch from Highway 22x up to Highway 8 along the city's western edge — skirting Tsuu T'ina First Nation territory and the southwest corner of the Weaselhead area — and then continue north using the 101st Street corridor through to the Trans-Canada Highway.
Alberta's out-going minister of transportation, Wayne Drysdale, says the transfer starts the clock on a seven-year deadline for the province to complete the portion of the ring road near Tsuu T'ina.
But he says that job will be up to the new NDP government.
"We ... couldn't start the tendering process or anything until we had the title in our hand, so now we have the title I would hope that they will continue and get on with putting the tender out this summer but I guess I'd better not say much about that. That's up to the new government."
The new NDP government's plans for the ring road aren't known. During the election campaign, party leader Rachel Notley said her government would come up with an infrastructure priority list.