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Calgary prepares to relocate street, building and tree for new event centre

Click to play video: '‘Lots of exciting milestones’: CMLC peels back curtain on $1.1B plan for 2024'
‘Lots of exciting milestones’: CMLC peels back curtain on $1.1B plan for 2024
Last week, details were released finalizing the new event centre in Stampede Park. On Monday, Calgary Municipal Land Corporation revealed its own $1.1 billion development update on how it will all fit together. Doug Vaessen has the story. – Feb 5, 2024

Work is set to begin to prepare the plot of land Calgary’s new event centre will call home.

A street, a historic building and a century-old elm tree will be relocated to make space for the new arena that will serve as a centrepiece for the city’s Culture and Entertainment District.

After the underground service work was done and a temporary roadway was built, crews will construct new utilities to shift 5th Street Southeast eastward, to become 5A Street Southeast. The street realignment will make the needed space for the 10-acre event centre block.

Crews will begin later this year to remove the existing surface parking lots, grade and excavate the block to prepare the area for the event centre. That work will begin after designs for the block are made public.

The development permit for the building will be submitted after the ground preparation work is done, in order to streamline the project and help make costs more efficient.

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Click to play video: 'What you need to know about the City of Calgary’s Event Centre agreements'
What you need to know about the City of Calgary’s Event Centre agreements

Currently at the corner of 13th Avenue and 5th Street Southeast sits the Stephenson & Co. Grocers building, a piece of the area’s history. Rather than tear it down to make space for the event centre, the city plans to relocate the brick building for safekeeping.

The city is also evaluating how it could be integrated back into the city’s modern-day landscape, with a final decision still to come.

The 125-year-old American Elm tree in Victoria Park, colloquially known as the Stampede Elm, was planted at the intersection of four backyards in the early 1900s. In the decades since, that tree has seen the city grow up around it.

Josh Traptow observes the large elm tree in a parking lot near the Calgary Stampede grounds. Global1/Global News

The city plans to remove the tree that currently sits in the middle of a surface parking lot, but not without preserving some of its history.

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Approximately 150 seeds have been collected from the tree, some of which have been propagated in a city tree nursery. Branches were cut from the tree and are being cultivated into new trees, with an eye to have genetically-identical trees planted in the city’s urban forest.

The city hopes that between 100 to 200 trees will be replanted from the Stampede Elm.

The University of Calgary has also digitally captured the character tree.

It was scanned with a terrestrial laser scanner from 12 locations, images which have been added to the Alberta Digital Heritage Archive.

The event centre’s lead said the scans have created a “tactile tool” that helps tell the tree’s tale for future generations.

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“We are grateful the University of Calgary was able to use this technology to capture the Victoria Park Elm,” Bob Hunter said. “Their work will allow us to remember and honour what Calgary’s landscape looked like in its first 150 years.”

The work on the block is part of the $1.22 billion budgeted to create a new event centre, which will include a new home for the Calgary Flames, a community rink and plaza, as well as improvements to area streets that are expected to have new hotels built to serve the event centre and the newly-expanded BMO Centre.

Click to play video: 'Calgary Stampede takes possession as BMO Centre expansion nears completion'
Calgary Stampede takes possession as BMO Centre expansion nears completion

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