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Crescent Road to reopen to traffic; ‘extremely frustrating’ for citizens

Crescent Road will be re-opened to traffic Sunday and residents in the area are disappointed to see their open space disappear.

In April, the city closed a five-block section of Crescent Road, from 1 Street to 6A Street NW. The closure provided an open space for residents in the area to get outdoors during COVID 19.

John McDermid with the Crescent Heights Community Association said they went back to the city at the end of August to pursue an extended closure. They wanted to run a six-month pilot project through the winter months. Programming would be planned around it.

“I didn’t hear back so we followed up a few weeks later in late September and didn’t hear back,” said McDermid.

“Then out of the blue on Thursday we got a note from roads that (Crescent Road) would open Sunday (Oct. 25).”

The city’s letter to the Crescent Heights and Rosedale Community Associations, obtained by LiveWire Calgary, confirmed they would be removing the barricades and re-opening the road to two-way traffic Oct. 25.

“With the colder weather, and more people staying inside, we are now seeing a decrease in the need to provide this level of additional outdoor space in the area,” read a letter from Pat Grisak, with the City of Calgary roads department.

In a public post, the Crescent Heights Community Association shared its disappointment.

“At a time when Alberta is recording record-high COVID numbers, the Mayor is urging local patios to winterize, and when Calgarians are being encouraged to be outside where the spread is less likely, it’s extremely frustrating to know the city’s roads department is once again prioritizing vehicles over people,” it read.

Potential temporary closures for Crescent Road

Area Coun. Druh Farrell said this was spot enjoyed by all Calgarians, not just those along the ridge.  She was disappointed to learn of the closure.

“And it’s as much of a public health issue as it is a transportation issue. The road isn’t necessary for transportation,” she said.

“We know we’re at risk of experiencing a second wave of COVID. We want people to enjoy the outdoors and each other’s company safely.”

The closure takes effect right away. Farrell said she’s got a commitment from the city’s transportation department to enable the road’s closure for special events.

“I think what we’re learning from COVID is something that we’ve been talking about for a very long time,” she said.

“This is how to share public space and how to maximize public space – not just for transportation – but for health and enjoyment.”

In addition, the city will close the south side of Crescent Road adjacent to the pathway from 1 Street NW to 7A Street. It’s an area typically used for parking. It will be sectioned off by pylons to give residents more space to walk or ride.

“If it helps control or restrict vehicular traffic at all, it’ll be a partial win. That’s where the problems that really plagued the area began,” said McDermid.

Area ‘rediscovered’ without traffic

The view from the McHugh Bluff along Crescent Road NW is a popular one for residents around the city. CHCA CONTRIBUTED

McDermid said they wanted a continued closure to run a pilot that would allow them to create small events. Now they might be looking at other ways to make use of the area, including potential block-by-block closures.

Perhaps the city will entertain closures again in the spring and summer, should the pandemic be ongoing, McDermid said.  

“We’re still going to try (to work with the city). I don’t really know if there’s a potential to reverse the decision,” he said.

“I know a lot of people are concerned. They’ve sort of rediscovered the place in a different light without cars, trucks and motorcycles.”

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