Eastern promises

Big things are in store for East Victoria Park

What would you do if you had a chance to remake a large area of Calgary’s inner city to meet the needs of today?

That’s the opportunity the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) was given when it began redevelopment of the Rivers District along the Bow and Elbow Rivers near downtown.

First it tackled the Downtown East Village, but now the City of Calgary-owned corporation has turned its sights to East Victoria Park, in an effort to transform the area into a cultural, entertainment and residential hub.

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Bright future

A decade of redevelopment has transformed Calgary’s East Village, but the best is yet to come

Nearly ten years into the East Village Master Plan, which was developed in 2009, the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) has invested close to $400-million into its delivery.

“That has attracted nearly $3 billion in private investment, including RioCan’s urban retail centre, now under construction, and various condo developments,” said Clare LePan, CMLC’s director of marketing and communications.

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Inner-city escapes

Parks are especially important in densely developed downtown

“Quality, not quantity” is how City of Calgary parks manager Keath Parker characterizes green spaces in Calgary’s downtown core, an area that’s not only home to tall office towers, but residential neighbourhoods as well, including the Beltline (Connaught and Victoria Park), East Village and Eau Claire.

Parker explains it wasn’t until the mid-1960s that the province’s Municipal Government Act (MGA) gave municipalities the authority to take up to 10 per cent of a development for open public space. Residential neighbourhoods developed prior to that tend not to have as much green space as those created after the MGA.

However, Calgary’s downtown is still far from a cold, concrete jungle. In fact, there are 24 parks in the downtown area covering roughly 65 hectares of open green space, according to the City.

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Community rebirth

Revitalized East Village is becoming “the place to be” in downtown Calgary

The summer sun rises eagerly in the early morning sky, casting a glittering cascade of twinkling light on the surface of the Bow River. Joggers and dog walkers scoot along the river pathway, enjoying the public art and the perfection of nature against the city’s skyline. The smell of freshly roasted coffee and savoury bready morsels wafts from the Simmon’s Building, its glass-sheathed doors flung open in anticipation of the day. Just steps away, store owners set out their wares in the newly launched pop-up retail park, as brightly coloured shipping containers frame the backdrop and the East Village hums to life.

“The East Village is all about connecting people and the new pop-up retail park – East Village Junction – is one of the major place-making initiatives happening this summer,” said Jessa Morrison, senior manager of marketing and communications for Calgary Municipal Land Corporation, the developer behind the East Village, a 49-acre revitalization project on the east side of Calgary’s downtown.

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Blank canvas

Developers creating public art ‘for the people that belongs to the people’

It’s Sunday morning and soft skiffs of white snow blanket the still green grass, while golden and red leaves cling tightly to drooping branches laden with the heaviness of an early fall storm.

As the sun streams through a parting overcast sky, melting the show of winter that has arrived all too soon, the landscape becomes an artistic vista – one of twinkling light and impressionistic colour as St. Patrick’s Island awakens to the day.

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