Thursday, January 9, 2014

Beloved Bowness Park soon to be returned to Calgarians, new and improved

Facility renderings/concept drawings

Having a family picnic or an afternoon tea overlooking the lagoon in Bowness Park will soon become a reality again for Calgarians.

Despite a setback due to flood damages, The City of Calgary Parks is anticipating partially reopening the park this summer. Citizens can look forward to a new concession with a tea house and rental shop and a lagoon/central square at the west end of the park.

“Bowness is one of Calgary’s most popular parks,” says Doug Marter, Parks Manager of Planning and Development Services. “Due to wear and tear over time, the park’s infrastructure had reached an age where it required a much-needed makeover.”

In 2012, Parks started redevelopment work in Bowness to restore the park’s 100-year heritage and better support an increased number of visitors,  enhance park user’s experience, boost the park’s environmental health and complete life-cycle upgrades/replacements.

Marter explains riverbanks had started to erode due to high traffic along the waterway. The road and pathway system also needed upgrading and the buildings were past their lifecycle.

The flood last June was additionally devastating to the park, completely washing away washrooms and covering the park in silt and large debris. The flood even destroyed some of the redevelopment work that was already completed, such as the new parking lot and concession.

Parks has started rebuilding the concession, which will feature a tea house, rental shop, and public washrooms, and in the next few months will be issuing a Request for Proposal (RFP) to find an operator for the brand new facility. Construction is expected to be completed in the summer and then successful operator will move forward on the tea house.

“The new facility is designed in such a way that one of the courtyards overlooks the lagoon, making it a functional and enjoyable space the public can used year round,” says Marter.

Parks would like to thank Calgarians for their patience as work continues in Bowness Park and other flood-damaged parks.

“We’re looking forward to getting one of our most beloved parks back. It’s been challenging without full access and it was additionally devastating when the flood hit and we had to close the park completely,” says Ward Sutherland, Ward 1 Councillor. “While some historic features of the park have been preserved, modern and up-to-date amenities have been added that beautifully balance the old with the new.”

More information and highlights about the Bowness Park Redevelopment Project can be found at calgary.ca/bownessredevelopment. Scheduled completion dates will be posted on this site closer to summer.

16 comments:

  1. Why oh why is the architecture so banal? Given this is a new building in a wonderful natural setting, the architecture should be more evocative, more contemporary, more stimulating - more...something. Is the design done, or is their time to fix this?

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    1. I haven't seen the architecture you refer to. You may be right about the "banal architecture", I wouldn't know. However, nothing is free. Are you willing to personally fund your vision? Taxpayers may not be willing to pony up.

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  2. Will the bike path from Valley Ridge to Bowness Park open this summer as well?

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    1. Great question Cindy! See the expanded comment below...

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  3. Given the spectacular natural surroundings and that this is an entirely new building, why is the archtitecture so banal? Is there not an opportunity to make something more evocative? More contemporary? More interesting?
    As a proud Bownessian, I would like to see a buildnig more reflective of the dynamism my community represents.

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  4. my friends from mexico did the park last year and in the fall 2013 after flood

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    1. They must have hopped the fence.

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  5. What would it take to open parts of the park now (in early May 2014)? Opening the Stoney Trail pedestrian bridge and connecting it to the pathway system going both east and west would be a big benefit. This could be done by temporarily fencing off the reconstructed pathway along the river’s edge from the rest of the park. This would allow the ongoing restoration work to continue without interference, let people see what is going on inside the park, and still allow the new vegetation to take hold.

    I appreciate the need to keep people away from the reconstruction activities and to let the damage heal naturally. However, keeping Calgarians completely out of the park without considering ways to allow access to the river bank and reconnecting the path system along the river through this area is not acceptable. Access to the "new concession with a tea house and rental shop and a lagoon/central square at the west end of the park" will be a step forward. But for those of us who miss the beauty of the river bank and access to the pathway system through this area, I believe my proposal is worth consideration.

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  6. Stupid that you can no longer drive all the way around the park. I have an elderly father who loves to go down to the far end and now we can't as he can't walk all that way. Stupid idea...

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    1. Thanks for letting us know about your father and how this impacts him. We understand his love of that part of the park. We have the difficult task of trying to balance the needs of all park users. One of the issues that came up was improving the safety of park users. There was concern that safety was compromised by allowing cars to drive around the park. Centralizing parking reduces the risk of park users being injured by a car. We understand this makes it difficult for your father to visit the far end of the park. Making our parks as safe as possible for the most number of people is a difficult balance.

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    2. Beautiful park. We are look forward to the re-opening. Is it possible to volunteer on the rebuilding of the train?

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  7. I am trying to plan a bike riding trip for this monday for my family. Is the bike path usable from inside bowness park and heading east through bowness?

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    1. Yes, you’re in luck! The pathway is open inside Bowness Park and heading east. To keep up to date on pathway closures, please visit The City’s pathway closures page. Have fun on your bike trip!

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  8. I am a resident of Bowness and was just at the park today and it looks beautiful! Love the fire pits and benches. I was wondering if the paddle boat rentals will be available this spring? So nice to have something so nice right in our community.

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    1. Glad you like the redevelopment! We’ve had lots of positive comments. As for paddle boat rentals, we are exploring vendors to provide this service, and hope to have a vendor in place this summer.

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  9. My opinion, is that the city has sacrificed usability (driving around the park) for safety (central parking). The new design is absolutely terrible. Nice big parking lot where 95% of people will walk no further than the closest picnic tables. And yes, my elderly father in law also can't walk to the westerly picnic tables. So Bowness Park has gone from usablity and loveable, to unsuitable, unusable and useless. I'm speaking about the west half of the park, not the easterly lagoon part.

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