Calgary’s East Village is a historic and monumental part of the City of Calgary.
It is 49 acres of land in the heart of the city, stretching from the historic site of Fort Calgary, into the downtown core and down to the bow river and 9 Ave SE.
Over time its identity has oscillated from the original downtown core back in 1875 – the very place Calgary was founded, to an area riddled with troublesome activity.
Today, due to the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation’s (CMLC) major infrastructural and design developments, the city’s prime and cherished district has been vastly ameliorated.
Drastic alterations planned for the area span the scope of major infrastructural and residential projects to the RiverWalk; a promenade along the Bow River with art installations, notable landscaping, ambient lighting and outdoor furniture.
The entire project will drastically change, and has already, the vibe of Calgary’s East Village. The area will host an urban experience, with landscape architecture at the core of the project’s design modality.
The project idea was seeded in 2005 when the City of Calgary and a team of urban planners got together to discuss the future of the East Village.
In 2008 a design competition was held and Broadway Malyan, a world-renown British firm won the project.
River Walk is one of the major components of CMLA’s redevelopment plans.
The concept of RiverWalk is to connect the four kilometres of the south side of the Bow River with the West side of Elbow River all the way to Lindsay Park; restoring the riverbank and creating a gathering place for cultural events and leisure activities.
“RiverWalk will restore the natural beauty of the riverbanks and serve as a connector to explore cultural and leisure activities within East Village and its adjacent communities,” explains calgarymlc.ca.
The first two phases of RiverWalk are now open. Phase one is located from the Centre Street Bridge to 9th Avenue SE. Phase Two will wrap the south side of the Bow River from 9th Avenue SE east to Victoria Crossing (13th Avenue SE). Finally, Phase three connects Victoria’s Crossing to Lindsay Park.
This Canada Day RiverWalk was the host to an art walk event, encouraging people to enjoy the areas of the promenade that are open and highlight local artistic talents.
Many of the goals of the East Village project are aesthetic; wide sidewalks with a mosaic of paving stones, newly planted trees, gathering areas, terraced steps to sit along the riverbank.
In addition to the natural beauty there are some real practical benefits inherent in the project as well.
More bicycle pathways and walking pathways make commuting easier, which in turn has a positive impact on Calgarians’ health and wellbeing and the environment.
The RiverWalk area has definitely made an impact already.
“The project (was) a top five finalist for the 2012 Urban Land Institute Urban Open Space Award. The awards recognize outstanding examples of well-used public spaces that have spurred regeneration and the transformation of the surrounding community,” explains an article in the Calgary Herald, East Villages RiverWalk recognized.
The new East Village is envisioned as a community where the pedestrian rules. CMLC has made huge strides in this direction. Wide sidewalks, complimented by newly planted trees and European-inspired paving stones, are set back from the road to make walking more pleasant. Narrower streets and raised intersections calm traffic. There are even leading-edge solar powered garbage compactors to help keep the area green.
Driving becomes optional as transit and pathways make for healthier and more environmentally friendly ways to commute. Lighting, benches and public art are helping keep streets safer and more inviting.
These enhancements have been completed on Confluence Way SE, 8th Avenue SE , 6th Street SE, and 6th Avenue SE and showcase these new streetscape designs. They are real life examples of what the rest of the East Village neighbourhood will look like as development unfolds.
If you have been down to the East Village what do you think of the improvements? Share with us in a comment below or share your thoughts on our accounts just by clicking on one below.
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