New pedestrian bridge at Prince’s Island Park should be ‘special,’ first design kiboshed

WATCH: The City of Calgary has sent officials back to the drawing board after a proposed bridge replacement for Prince’s Island Park received negative feedback. Adam MacVicar reports.

What are your thoughts on the pedestrian bridge in Prince’s Island Park? How do you think its replacement should look?

That’s just what the City of Calgary is hoping to hear this weekend at an open house about improvements proposed for Eau Claire, including replacing the ailing Jaipur pedestrian bridge.

READ MORE: Calgary city councillor disappointed with continued delays in Eau Claire development

The bridge, which opened in 1968, is slated for replacement as it’s “reached the end of its service life,” according to the city’s website.

Officials hope the new bridge will meet the following criteria:

  • Meet current bridge design and engineering standards
  • Improve flood resiliency
  • Fit in with the Eau Claire Promenade, public realm and community
  • Accommodate emergency vehicles needing access to Prince’s Island Park
  • Maintain long-term access to park and Bow River pathways
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A proposed design of the new bridge was already presented to the City of Calgary planning commission earlier this week but was pulled from the agenda at the beginning of the meeting.

Proposed design of a new pedestrian bridge in Prince's Island Park.
Proposed design of a new pedestrian bridge in Prince's Island Park. City of Calgary
Proposed design of a new pedestrian bridge in Prince's Island Park.
Proposed design of a new pedestrian bridge in Prince's Island Park. City of Calgary

According to Ward 5 Councillor George Chahal, some felt the design was too big and clunky, appeared overbuilt and didn’t fit in with the rest of the city’s vision for the Eau Claire development.

“I think some of the concerns that I’ve seen, and some of my concerns, would be that this is an opportunity to build something special as we’re replacing the bridge that goes into one of our treasures that we have as a city – Prince’s Island Park,” Chahal said on Friday.

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“And we want to make sure that this bridge should be something extremely nice as there’s thousands of Calgarians that cross it on a regular basis every year.”

Chahal said the entire Eau Claire development project — which includes working on Eau Claire Plaza and the Eau Claire Promenade — is significant and he would like to see the new bridge become a thing to see in Calgary.

“Functionality is extremely important, but [so are] beauty and design,” he said. “If we’re going to build it, let’s build it right so it lasts us a long time and it has the opportunity to be a real special place like the Peace Bridge is today.”

READ MORE: Eau Claire makeover: public input sought by city

Chahal said the planning commission sent a “clear message” to the developers that they need to come back with better options that have more detail.

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The city wants to have a design set in 2019 and construction of the replacement bridge is set to begin in 2020, according to the website.