Calgary’s Century Gardens unveiled after years of renovations

Century Gardens officially opened in Calgary on Wednesday, June 30, 2021. Supplied by City of Calgary

The City of Calgary opened the new and improved Century Gardens on Wednesday.

The park, located at 826 8 Ave. S.W., has two new pavilion buildings, washrooms, an amphitheatre and a central splash pad.

The $16-million project included upgrades to the heritage waterfalls, restored sculptures, wider park entrances and increased route options to and from the CTrain platform.

Century Gardens was built in 1975, featuring brutalist architecture, to celebrate Calgary’s centennial.

“I recall coming here as a youth and playing in these fountains when the park was still quite new, and the park traditionally offered a reprieve from that bustling downtown scene,” said Kyle Ripley, director of Calgary Parks.

“But this redevelopment, which was 12 years in the making, will bring back that sense of reprieve for a new generation of park users while also adding some vibrancy to the downtown core.”

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Century Gardens officially opened in Calgary on Wednesday, June 30, 2021. City of Calgary

The place is symbolic of the nearby mountains, foothills, rivers and plains.

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“If you’re a visitor, you can see all of that landscape of Alberta as you walk through this park on one city block in downtown Calgary,” said Mayor Naheed Nenshi.

Century Gardens officially opened in Calgary on Wednesday, June 30, 2021. Global News

‘A lot of ups and downs’

Some infrastructure was past its life expectancy so redevelopment began in 2018. Delays hampered the project: it was slated to open in 2019 and was later pushed to 2020 before its 2021 unveiling.

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“There has been a lot of ups and downs on this particular project, but I’m just so thrilled that we’re here now,” Nenshi said.

“One thing we’ve really learned over this last terrible year is the importance of nature, the importance of connection, the importance of public spaces, and that’s why I’m really excited that we are opening this magnificent park today. It’s also an important part of Calgary’s history.”

The mayor said many of the park’s historic features — like the fountains and art — were preserved while contemporary elements were added. The space is more inviting now.

“I think the park is more open, more welcoming and safer,” Nenshi said, thanking the builders and the neighbours “who have been so patient.”

Century Gardens is open daily from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. with the splash pad operational from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the summer, the city said.

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