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Deadly stretch of Calgary pathway being replaced with switchbacks

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WATCH: The City of Calgary is reconstructing a section of pathway in northwest Calgary that resulted in fatal injuries to a teen two years ago. As Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports, the tragedy has prompted the city to look at other dangerous locations.

The city of Calgary is reconstructing a section of pathway in northwest Calgary which resulted in fatal injuries to a teen two years ago

Jhamir Catajan was a Grade 8 student at St. Joseph School who is remembered as a gentle soul who always put others before himself.

On June 15, 2020, Jhamir was skateboarding down a hill in Confederation Park when witnesses said he tried to avoid a child on the path and crashed into a bridge. The 14 year old died two days later.

“That was really hard for all of our families because it’s a tight-knit community. So when another accident happened almost a year later and it was in our same school community, we said OK what can we do?” said Mount Pleasant resident Amanda Halek.

 

Memorial in Confederation Park for Jhamir Catajan. Carolyn Kury de Castillo/Global News

Halek’s son went to school with both Jhamir and with another boy who was seriously injured at the same location a year after Jhamir’s death. A group of parents took action, setting up a memorial in the park to raise awareness, approaching strangers in the park and writing emails to the city.

“It was totally grassroots.  We just got together in the park after these accidents happened, this group of moms and we are crying and standing at this bridge going ‘What can we do?'” Halek said.

Read more: Mom of Calgary boy who died after skateboarding crash thankful for support, changes to city park

The city is now realigning the pathway along 10th St in Mount Pleasant.  It used to be a straight line down to a four-way intersection. The new pathway will have two switchbacks to slow riders down.

The city says the pathway is not something that would be allowed by today’s standards. The current maximum allowed slope is eight per cent.

“Our park design guidelines outline the maximum allowable grades on pathways,” said Vlair Allan with the City of Calgary.

“This pathway was grandfathered in. It was built  before a time when design guidelines were really a big thing in engineering, so we are moving forward taking the information that we have now and applying that to pathways that existed in the old days and seeing how we can make improvements to them.”

The tragic incident prompted the city to look at other dangerous pathways. The city is now investigating a steep slope near the Glenmore Reservoir on the south side of the Weaselhead that has been the site of injury collisions.

 

Memorial on bridge in Confederation Park. Carolyn /Kury de Castillo/Global News

“When we saw the construction trucks and the vehicles in the park we were amazed this change is actually happening. In this day and age it’s easy to think that positive change can’t happen,” Halek said. “It’s going to make the park safer for everyone. It’s incredibly heartwarming and incredibly gratifying,”

Read more: Calgary community members celebrate opening of northwest raised pathway

In a statement to Global News, Jhamir’s mother said she is relieved about the pathway project, stating  “Please don’t take off the memorial so everyone can be aware that someone accidentally died.”

Community members have asked that the city name the bridge in Jhamir’s memory.

The Confederation Park project should be completed by early October.

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