Calgary City Council scrapped WinSport Canada’s bid to develop a sprawling retail centre near the foot of Canada Olympic Park, as aldermen decried the notion of car-oriented “big box” at the city’s western gateway.
The 9-5 vote Monday will force the sports agency back to the drawing board with its redevelopment plans for the lands around the sports park. It’s also a body blow to Winsport’s funding ambitions, since they hoped to sell that parcel along Trans-Canada Highway to a private developer to help fund athletic programs.
“We’re very proud of WinSport and we don’t want to see them suffer or be hurt in any way,” Ald. Richard Pootmans said. “But from a planning and transportation perspective this was not an application that council or I as the ward alderman ... could see fit to approve.”
The sports agency still can redevelop the base of Paskapoo Slopes as a smaller-scale “Alpine Village” mix of office buildings, residences and some retail, from a previous development plan. The larger project would have demanded the conversion of an six-lane interchange at Bowfort Road N.W. into an eight-lane behemoth, and council was so unhappy with WinSport’s retail plan they asked the city to consider buying the land for untold millions of dollars.
WinSport president Dan O’Neill refused to speak with reporters after the surprise decision. Community activists from Bowness and the Paskapoo Slopes Preservation Society were delighted.
“They stood for the people of the city, for the land of the city, for the trees — as opposed to commercialism, which can stand on its own,” said Annette Le Faive of the preservation society, which has long fought developments on the slopes.
Mayor Naheed Nenshi voted against scrapping the proposal, because he believed there could have been a compromise that had eluded city planners for about a year. He agreed, however that big box wouldn’t work there. “We don’t (want) to create Crowfoot Centre at the foot of Paskapoo Slopes.”
Nenshi went a step farther, saying that the transit-unfriendly, retail megacentres is something Calgary should shift away from altogether