The City of Calgary is rebuilding a section of pathway in northwest Calgary that resulted in fatal injuries to a teenager two years ago.
Zamir Katjan was a Class 8 student at St Joseph’s School, remembered as a gentle soul who always put others before himself.
On June 15, 2020, Zamir was skateboarding down a hill in Confederation Park when witnesses said he tried to avoid a child on the road and crashed into a bridge. The 14-year-old died two days later.
“It’s been really hard for all our families because it’s a tight-knit community. So when another accident happened about a year later and it was in our same school community, we said okay what can we do? said Mount Pleasant resident Amanda Halleck.
Halek’s son went to school with Zamir and another boy who was seriously injured in the same place a year after Zamir’s death. A group of parents took action, building a memorial in the park to raise awareness, contacting 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’re crying and standing on this bridge going ‘what can we do?’” Halleck said.
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The city is now realigning the pathway along 10th St. in Mount Pleasant. It is used as a straight line below a four-way intersection. The new pathway will have two switchbacks to slow down riders.
The city says the pathway is not something that would be allowed by today’s standards. The current maximum allowable gradient is eight percent.
“Our park design guidelines outline the maximum allowable grade on the pathway,” said Valerie Allen with the City of Calgary.
“This pathway was grandfathered in. It was built way back when design guidelines were really a big thing in engineering, so we’re taking the information we have now and applying it to pathways that existed in the old days. Staying and seeing how we can improve them.”
The tragic incident drew the city’s attention to other dangerous avenues. The city is now investigating the slopes near Glenmore Reservoir on the south side of Weaselhead, the site of the injuring collision.
“When we saw the construction trucks and vehicles in the park, we were amazed that this transformation was really happening. It’s easy in this day and age to think that positive change can’t happen,” Halleck said. “It will make the park safer for everyone. It’s incredibly heartwarming and super fun,”
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In a statement to Global News, Zamir’s mother said she was relieved about the pathway project, saying “please don’t take down the memorial so that everyone knows someone dies accidentally.”
Community members have asked that the city name the bridge in Zamir’s memory.
The Confederation Park project should be completed by early October.
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