Tsuu T'ina deal for Calgary ring road dead: Province
Don Braid, Calgary Herald
Published: Wednesday, July 1, 2009
CALGARY - The provincial government says the Tsuu T’ina ring road deal is dead and it’s time to find other solutions after band members voted down the agreement that took four years to negotiate.
“We’re disappointed that this wasn’t approved,” Paul Stanway, Premier Ed Stelmach’s communications director, said Wednesday.
“We felt we negotiated in good faith and it was a fair agreement for everyone. But now we have to move on and work on other options.”
But Peter Manywounds, the band’s chief negotiator, suggested there might still be room for a revised deal the band members would approve.
“We were so close,” he said. “There are some relatively minor things that could probably be resolved to the members’ satisfaction.”
He said issues that troubled members included such things as transit and gravel rights, as well as complete guarantees that the band would receive new land.
Chief Sanford Big Plume, commenting after the 60 per cent vote against the agreement on Tuesday, said “the nation will not enter into this agreement.” He did not say there couldn’t be a revised agreement.
But the province is unlikely to be swayed. The years of negotiation have already cost many millions in legal and consulting fees, as well as staff time.
The rejection is also personally embarrassing for Premier Ed Stelmach, who talked often to Big Plume and put his weight behind the deal.
Talks have continued in one way or another for more than 50 years. This was the closest the band and province have ever come to a legal agreement.
The rejection was shattering for earnest band members like Manywounds, who worked on the project from the start and hoped the deal was done.
“Today I’m just going to sit and look at the beautiful mountains and all the green and think about things,” he said Wednesday.
A final death certificate for the Tsuu T’ina road will immediately move provincial and city focus back to a 37 St SW route, with either a bridge or tunnel across the Weaselhead. That project would itself be controversial for years.
Liberal MLA Kent Hehr immediately attacked the province for “dangling this ring road like a carrot in front of Calgary for years and it’s pretty clear now this road was never going to happen.
“We can’t forget that this was Ed Stelmach’s crew at the negotiation table. Last election, he said he could deliver when clearly he could not.”
Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald