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Ward 9 ‘Dream Network’ illustrates past, present, future of area pathway system

Whether or not he runs again for Calgary city council, Ward 9’s Gian-Carlo Carra said a recent completed project was work that needed to be done.

When he entered office 10 years ago, there was little in terms of continuity from his predecessor, Joe Ceci. Due to privacy rules, there were no documents, no plans, to back-burner projects to carry forward. Everything had been shredded.

“When I walked into Joe Ceci’s former office, my new office, it was literally empty, and it took us about a year and a half, two years to reconstruct everything that Joe Ceci had been working on with citizens,” Carra said.

They didn’t want that to happen again.

“City building takes decades and decades and decades, and your elected representatives are here for a good time, not a long time,” Carra said.

“We have to make sure that we don’t drop the ball as they change out, and as members of administration changes, and as members of community associations change. We want there to be a solid record and a base to build on for people who want to advocate for a better future.”

During a recent strategic retreat, Carra and his ward team, with the help of Calgary artist Sam Hester, put together a past-present-future look at the area’s pathway network.

They’re calling it the Ward 9 Dream Network. It stems from Carra’s Great Neighbourhoods vision he campaigned on in 2010.

It’s a colourful, creative look at the area’s existing network, the work underway and future connections they want to see happen. It shows the network, but also familiar areas residents may connect with and frequent as they traverse their neighbourhood.

The Calgary 5A Network

The city’s 5A Network plan for interconnectivity in Calgary was approved in 2020. The 5A stand for – Always Available for All Ages and Abilities.

It’s the city’s effort to lace together a network of pathways systems. There are, however, neighbourhoods built in different eras with changing design guidelines in mind.

In various past interviews, many in the pedestrian safety and cycling community have raised the issue of fragmented pathways systems in certain parts of the city.

At a recent meeting on escooters, Jonathan Hopkins from Lime Canada encouraged work on the 5A network for safety reasons. He said 60 per cent of escooter use are on a pathway or bikeway.

“This helps reduce the use of scooters on sidewalks where conflicts sometimes occur,” he said at the time.

Pete Spearing with Bike Calgary said their recent effort around EP Scarlett High School in southwest Calgary was to complement their work to fill gaps in the city’s 5A network.

 Carra said he recognized that there are problem areas in the city’s pathway network.

“I think the reality is we have an incredible pathway system, but it doesn’t connect everything,” Carra said.

“So, the idea with the ward nine map is to really interconnect Ward nine.”

The hope is the new map gets people talking and thinking about the connectivity in Ward 9. They want to identify successes and where work needs to be done.

A plan like this sounds like it will take another term…

Right now, Coun. Carra hasn’t decided if he’s going to run in Ward 9 in this October’s municipal election. 

Community response to this plan might sway his decision. After all, to see some of this move ahead, might take another term in office to see it through. Though, Carra said some of the future projects might be 20 years in the making.

“I’ll be quite frank with you, you know, the conversations that these maps provoke are central to the conversation as to whether I should run or not seek re-election or not,” he said.

At the very least, Carra and his Ward 9 staff wanted to leave a plan for whomever comes next.

“It’s meant to really encourage a record of where people are at in their advocacy and where they should be at; where administration is at, and where communities are and where people who are proposing to be leaders, stand on that as well,” he said.

“It’s a celebration of what we do have. It’s a celebration of the accomplishments we’re in the process of accomplishing. But it’s also a very firm statement that we still have a lot more to do.”

Carra said the Dream Network plan is the first of other similar plans he wants to complete prior to the October election.