Calgary’s Victoria Park neighbourhood could look very different in 50 years, and so could the city’s skyline, as a new master plan for redevelopment in the area involves bulldozing the iconic Saddledome.
The plan for the what is being called the Rivers District — drafted by the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation — was presented to the city planning commission on Thursday. It features a mix of residential and commercial buildings centred around a new entertainment district that many have been hoping will feature a new arena for the Calgary Flames hockey team and for staging other events.
Talks of building a new arena in Calgary broke off last year, after the city and the Calgary Sport and Entertainment Committee (CSEC), which owns the Calgary Flames hockey team, couldn’t reach an agreement on funding.
In October, the city officially invited the CSEC back to the negotiating table, though no formal talks have happened.
A key diagram in the plan that was revealed on Thursday shows an aerial view of Victoria Park with the area where the Saddledome now sits designated as “flexible flat space” which could be used for parking or major events like Comic-Con, the Global Petroleum Show or the Stampede.
The proposal shows a new event centre nestled between a few buildings located slightly east of where the Saddledome is now.
BELOW: Swipe to see descriptions of the buildings and other infrastructure featured in the proposed Rivers District Master Plan
The Saddledome would still stand until a new arena is built, which would be years in the future, the plan suggests.
The proposal also features the newly-approved expansion to the BMO Centre, which will provide a connection to the LRT station and Stampede Trail.
The plan looks at everything from road closures to an LRT framework that would be featured in the new entertainment district.
All buildings and infrastructure featured in the diagrams are pictured as fully built, but that progress would happen bit by bit over many years.
Watch from Dec. 14, 2018: Global News Morning Calgary’s Doug Vaessen has the details on discussions for a new arena and event centre in Victoria Park.
The commission was critical of the plan on Thursday afternoon, saying details around a new arena or event centre were vague. It also criticized errors within the report and called for it to be revised before being presented to the city’s planning and urban development committee.
Councillor Evan Woolley said the report seemed rushed, adding there’s a lot of work left to do on the Victoria Park project.
He said the commission needs clarity on things like densities of city blocks included in the area, park space as well as other “small, small things” that need to be ironed out before the plan is put before council.
Woolley said the Rivers District plan is the “binding document” that’s needed to tie several projects together, like the arena proposal and the Green Line LRT.
“We need to slow down a bit on this,” he said. “I’m not talking many, many months — there needs to be some tightening up of these pieces.”
When asked about whether the plan could go ahead without a signed arena deal, Woolley said he was confident that the plan would go ahead and that “at some point in the future, we will have a new arena.”
“We are calling it the cultural and entertainment district, it’s been identified as that. An event centre/arena will sit within that, we have a very good sense of exactly where that will sit.”