A long-awaited effort to revitalize east Victoria Park is underway, with the first projects taking shape under the Rivers District master plan (RDMP) that was passed by city council in December 2018.

Led by the Calgary Municipal Land Corp. (CMLC), the plan spells out a vision of east Victoria Park as a cultural and entertainment centre with a residential component, fitting within the larger Rivers District that also includes the East Village.

“With the master plan in place, we have the roadmap to guide the next 20 years of development in east Victoria Park,” said Clare LePan, vice-president of marketing and communications with CMLC.

“It is a really important tool that allows for development to unfold thoughtfully in the community and ensure it develops into a vibrant and cohesive district, and we are in the position to start that process now.”

LePan says infrastructure improvements, such as new roadways, are a big component of the master plan and will reconnect the district with the surrounding urban neighbourhoods.

“East Victoria Park provides a great opportunity for a new event centre that also has the potential to stimulate new development in the area.” – Clare LePan, Calgary Municipal Land Corp.

She says they anticipate the first major infrastructure project to be the 17th Avenue extension, which will begin in early 2020, but this year will see the start of construction on a major expansion of the BMO Centre.

In early March, city council approved a draft proposal for $1.5 billion in funding that includes the BMO Centre expansion, construction of a new arena and expansion of the Arts Commons.

Calgary Stampede CEO Warren Connell says they have now received commitments from the municipal, provincial and federal governments to each contribute one third of the required funding for the $500-million project that will double the size of the BMO Centre to almost one million square feet.

The federal government announced its $166.6-million contribution this week from Stampede Park.

Connell says Calgary and southern Alberta need larger event venues to support future growth in demand and to attract larger exhibitions and conventions.

“Calgary currently misses out on 11 to 14 tier-one events due to our undersized facilities,” he said.

The redevelopment of east Victoria Park could also finally see a new arena for the city, which is described in the RDMP as an “event centre.”

LePan says CMLC studied how the centre would integrate into the surrounding area and build upon the amenities that are already anchored in the district.

“East Victoria Park provides a great opportunity for a new event centre that also has the potential to stimulate new development in the area,” she said.