Advocacy group forms to save North Calgary’s Nose Creek Valley from industrial development

‘It’s not like it’s going to get any worse. It just is what it is, or we can do something about it’

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For Andrew Yule, it’s more of a case of ‘What’s in my backyard?’ than ‘Not in my backyard’.

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Like many in Northern Hills communities, Yule wants to protect the vast swath of natural land in Nose Creek Valley, which was slated to be developed as an industrial complex more than 17 years ago. Since then, little has happened to the land bordering Yule’s Coventry Hills Road, raising concerns and confusion about what may end up consuming the area that he says is the “only green space” for multiple communities up north. from Calgary.

“It could be that these are all warehouses,” he said, gesturing behind him to the overgrown valley and its namesake winding canal. “And that’s very disturbing to me.”

After years of residents not feeling heard by local officials, a grassroots advocacy group formed: Save Nose Creek. Launched by Yule and a handful of other involved community members last month, it is rapidly gaining traction among area residents, with hundreds of Twitter and Facebook followers rallying behind the cause and drawing the attention of several local politicians. Ultimately, the goal is to protect the valley as a major regional park, potentially even a provincial or national park, envisioning it as an equivalent to Fish Creek Park or Nose Hill Park for communities north of Calgary.

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In 2005, the city earmarked the land for industrial use as part of the future Stony Industrial Area, which extends from the north end of Stoney Trail south to Airport Trail between Barlow Trail on the east and the CP Rail line on the west. . in a proposal the group dispatched local, provincial and federal government officials, they say the plan was “pushed” with little input from residents of adjoining neighborhoods.

With no development on the privately owned land since then, it has become a much-used green space for residents of Calgary’s northern neighborhoods, despite the fact that there is no easy way down into the valley, no official trails. no services.

“There are so many opportunities here; people love it,” Yule said as a few people walked along the valley floor. “It’s also very difficult to access, but people are still willing to find a way to get there because it’s our only green space.”

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Yule said he doesn’t want the valley to end up like the Greenview industrial area along McKnight Boulevard, where buildings and businesses have been placed along the creek bed. She said nearly 100-year-old photos she’s seen of the area show the creek winding through the valley in a similar way to how it does near her home.

“You look at it now, and it’s a direct channel, direct through Greenview Industrial,” he said. “You have housing butted right up against one side; you have warehouses attached to the other… We don’t want that here”.

The group is also asking the city and other area governments to look at nearby projects that could help conserve Nose Creek Valley, including modifications to the planned area. widening of Country Hills Boulevardand the proposed bike trail from Airdrie to Calgary.

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And they may have some allies in high places.

Now-mayor Jyoti Gondek spoke out against the planned industrial hub in 2005. Then, the president of the Northern Hills Community Association, she cited a “dire need” to address the concerns of area residents.

“Wetlands have been protected, the environment has been protected, landowners have been protected, but where are the residents in all of this?” Gondek told the Calgary Herald after the city’s planning commission approved the area’s framework plan in March 2005.

Yule said they have received notes of support for their cause from a handful of council members, including former councilman and failed mayoral candidate Jeromy Farkas as he continues his fundraising trip up the Pacific Crest Trail.

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District 3 County Jasmine Mian said she will be meeting with Save Nose Creek representatives this week, but some of her requests may be too much for the city.

“I think the idea of ​​taking private industrial land and turning it into a community park is probably a step too far,” Mian said.

“But I think there is some merit in looking at what are all the city-owned assets in the area, what are the opportunities for us to advocate for better community spaces and services. I think taking an inventory of what’s really out there is a good place to start.”

Yule admits that a park designation is a lofty goal, dependent on one or several levels of government buying hundreds of acres of land that owners don’t even want to sell, but said there’s nothing wrong with trying. At a minimum, he would like to see some places protected from industrial development and improve access to the valley.

“It’s not like it’s going to get any worse. It just is what it is, or we can do something about it,” Yule said. “Just take us to the table; let’s discuss it. Let’s try to save as much green space as we can and try to save as much history as possible.”

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