The comeback

Bowness Park partially reopens to public after two-year closure

Two years after being closed for renovations – with some added delay due to flooding in June 2013 – Bowness Park is partially reopen for business.

The City said the entire west side of the park – including the parking lot, picnic areas and a new central square – is now open to the public. The east end of the park will remain closed until next year.

A new concession, constructed in place of the previous one, has also been completed and will include a tea house/café, rental shop and public washrooms. The popular lagoon will soon reopen to skating.

Other redevelopment highlights, some of which are ongoing, include restoration of the river’s edge, parking relocation, new water control structures at the lagoon, a new parking lot at the west end, a new park entrance bridge and new interpretative signage and historic elements to celebrate the park’s place in Calgary’s history.

Bowness Park’s history dates back prior to the First World War when local land developer John Hextall established it as weekend retreat for Calgarians. Today, the park serves as a year-round destination for active Calgarians to picnic, jog, skate and cross-country ski.

The 2012 redevelopment plan was initiated as a way of refreshing the 100-year-old destination.
“We’re in the process of trying to provide a facelift and redevelop the park and sort of deal with some of the ageing infrastructure we have today,” said Doug Marter, manager planning and development services for City of Calgary Parks.

The project was nearly half completed when flooding in June 2013 erased almost all work that had been completed to that time. Debris lined the canal, silt covered the entire park and boulders almost a metre high rolled into roadways and parking lots.

At the time, some residents expressed concerns at the slow pace of restoration efforts.

“I’m just telling people, ‘hey we need to do it right. You’ve got to understand the damage’,” said Ward 1 Coun. Ward Sutherland. “And when I explain it in detail, they say, ‘oh that makes sense. I’d rather see a good park.’”

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