Thursday, July 09, 2015

Together We Can Save the Paskapoo Slopes

"Together" is a powerful word and when we all band together as one big group, there's a LOT of momentum that can be built, change that can occur, and impact that can shake a city.  That's what we need right now in Calgary if we are going to save the Paskapoo Slopes from development.  And we need each and every single person who has ever visited the slopes (or hopes to some day) to stand up and fight for this.

The Paskapoo Slopes, Wild and Free!


The Paskapoo Slopes

The Paskapoo Slopes are located just east of Winsport's Canada Olympic Park and are also referred to as the "Eastlands." We love biking on these slopes and they are completely unique in all of Calgary. 

"The East Paskapoo Slopes are unique in Calgary due to the combination of north facing steep slopes, rolling prairie grasslands, abundant natural springs, and forest of Aspen and Balsam trees. The Slopes are part of a natural wildlife corridor for deer, coyote, small mammals and a large variety of migratory and breeding birds." (Save The Slopes)

These slopes are currently wild and free.  They are not developed in any way, there are no paved trails, no benches, no playgrounds, or amenities of any kind.  Parking lots are unofficial road side pullouts at best and you'll have to ask locals for directions to find the iconic "Big Rock," "Old Beaters," or other landmarks that make exploring the slopes so much fun.

The Paskapoo Slopes "Big Rock"

What We are Fighting For

We want to keep this area wild and free for the next generation.  I want my son to grow up biking and hiking here.  I want more parkland close to my house and I'm ok with driving an extra 5 minutes to find a grocery store or shopping mall.  However, this area is at risk with details best described by the Save the Slopes organization below:

"On July 20th, City Councillors will vote on a massive development proposal that could affect this land forever. The proposed development is called Trinity Hills and its footprint covers nearly 100 acres (4 million square feet). For comparison, Market Mall (including parking lots) is 3 million square feet."  (Save the Slopes)

Supporters of the Trinity Hills project will tell you that the proposal includes 160 acres of park so it's win win for everybody, right?  Wrong!  The part that will  be "saved" if you can call it that, will not include the lower slopes where we bike.  It will most likely be pathways through a condo development, and it is very possible we will not be allowed to bike in this new "environmental reserve." 

The Lower Slopes where families bike will be destroyed

Why this cause is important to my family

For us, there is no other mountain biking area like the Paskapoo Slopes in our entire city.  I know full  well that there are those would say:  "So what if the city wants to allow development here?  Find somewhere else to bike!"  And that's all well and good IF there were somewhere else similar to bike in the city!!

This is our playground.  We want it kept wild.

Without the Paskapoo Slopes we will be forced to drive 45 minutes to an hour to go mountain biking in Bragg Creek or Kananaskis.  Personally,  I'd rather bike close to home rather than contribute to our world's pollution problems by driving two hours round trip in order to have a short evening bike ride!

Other options for biking in Calgary are less than ideal:

Nose Hill Park - Most of this park is now crisscrossed with wide gravel pathways that are more user-friendly, accessible, and "better for the fragile grasslands" I suppose.  Either way, there isn't much left that's wild and natural for mountain biking. 

Bowmont Natural Park  - Great for mountain biking (if you have intermediate to advanced skills, don't mind skinny track that drops off steeply into the river valley, and can traverse narrow sketchy slopes on your bike.) - not going to happen for this family anytime soon. 

Twelve Mile Coulee - Great again if you have intermediate to advanced skills and can  ride skinny track without falling into the creek below you.  I know for us, this is still a year or three away.

Fish Creek Park - Great if you live in the South! What about those of us in the north though? Are we supposed to drive an hour south to go biking?  Might as well drive out to Bragg Creek if we are going to head down to Fish Creek Park every time we want to ride.

Canada Olympic Park - Fabulous if you like downhill biking complete with all the gear, paddling, full face helmets, AND you want to pay to bike.  It's not free to bike at a resort with chair lift accessed trails.

Other suggestions for those of us in north Calgary who want to enjoy mountain biking close to home without having to drive all the way out to Bragg Creek or Kananaskis?   Maybe we should we take up hockey instead?

The BEST spot for mountain biking in all of Calgary - soon to become a Superstore

The City of Calgary has 12 hockey arenas, 12 athletic parks, 14 swimming pools and leisure centres, a soccer centre and 6 golf courses managed and maintained by the city.  We also have 8,000 hectares of parkland and nearly 800 Km of pathways to enjoy in Calgary.   Sadly, you'll see most of these pathways are all paved. The natural ones usually prohibit  biking (Example, The Weaselhead Natural Area in North Glenmore Park)

The City of Calgary is a huge supporter of recreation and healthy living but mountain biking has sadly been neglected and one of our last free spots to ride could soon be destroyed forever.  I will have to teach my son to play hockey or soccer instead because soon, there will be no more natural trails left in our city that allow biking.   Don't believe me?  Try to find a single mention of mountain biking on the City of Calgary's website! 

Condos, grocery stores and a movie theatre could replace this natural area

What can you do to help save the Paskapoo Slopes

Below are just a few small steps you can take to show your support.  Pick one, pick several, but do something.  There is just over a week left for the City Council to hear our voices and they need to be big and strong.  If a tiny spark can cause a forest fire, think of what we can do if we all stand together and shout:  "SAVE OUR SLOPES!"

Suggestions to show your support:

1.  Sign the Petition!!

2.  Attend the public hearing on July 20th. 

3.  Organize a walk or bike ride on the Slopes with family and friends.  Take a photo.  Email a copy to each Councillor and to the Mayor with a message of support for the Slopes.  (all contact information for City Council is here.)

Make a Stand!

4.  Send a "Save the Slopes" postcard to each Councillor and to the Mayor.  (I'd do it soon)

5.  Email your Councillor and express your support for the slopes wild and undeveloped.  (Contact information for City Council)

6.  Get on social media and send photos of you and your family enjoying the Paskapoo Slopes to each Councillor and to the mayor.  Use the hashtag #savetheslopes .

Sent to each Councillor and to the Mayor

 7.  Introduce a new family or friend to the Slopes.  Give them a tour.  Take them to the rock.  Show them the old cars.  Then get them to sign the petition.

We don't need more shopping malls.  We need more natural trails for biking.

Big thanks to the Save the Slopes organization for everything they've done through this entire campaign.  Stay strong!


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