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Calgary officials break ground on Stampede Trail: ‘Many things for many people’

Calgary Stampede president and CEO Joel Cowley, CMLC president and CEO Kate Thompson and Desi Rider (L to R) break ground on Calgary's Stampede Trail revitalization project on April 6, 2023. Michael King / Global News

A roadway that goes right through Calgary’s Stampede Park is on its way to being reimagined.

On Thursday, officials broke ground on the redevelopment of Stampede Trail, formerly known as Olympic Way.

When completed, Stampede Trail will be a multi-use, three-lane thoroughfare that will be able to accommodate pedestrians, cyclists and motorists depending on the context. The Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) called it a “festival street” that can be closed for special events like the Calgary Stampede.

CMLC president and CEO Kate Thompson called it “an important piece that has to do many things for many people.”

“Year round, it provides an entry point into our park, a more welcoming entry point into our park. Combined with the 17th Avenue extension, it makes it feel more park-like,” Calgary Stampede CEO Joel Cowley said.

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“And we very much desire to activate this park even more so on a year-round basis.”

The road surface will be made up of interlocking pavers, creating a “different feel” when driving, cycling or walking along it. Overhead lighting will “sparkle and define the character of the street.” And the curbs will be rounded.

“When we want to close this road, when Calgary wants to come together and gather, we want it to feel like a big open festival plaza space,” Thompson said. “So (where) you would have a road transitioned from road to plaza, that simple detail of a rolled curb allows people to move freely around in this space.”

Click to play video: 'New detours in place near Calgary’s Stampede Park'
New detours in place near Calgary’s Stampede Park

Street-level retail and dining are anticipated to line Stampede Trail, along with the hotel announced in December for Stampede Park.

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There will be something of a dance during the two-year, two-phase construction process. The CMLC created an online access map to help people get in and out of the park during the developments.

Construction begins on April 24, but will pause for the annual “Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth” in July.

The first phase of construction due to be completed in 2023 stretches from Agricultural Trail and stretches to 14 Avenue S.E. The second phase stretches from 14 Avenue S.E. to 12 Avenue S.E.

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“All of these moving parts, all these moving puzzle pieces in the area, come together and land together in 2024 for the opening of the BMO (Centre) and of all the constituent parts around it,” Thompson said.

The 17th Avenue extension into Stampede Park, the Victoria Park/Stampede LRT station and the Stampede’s SAM Centre on 13 Avenue S.E. are all expected to open that year.

Cowley said there’s “tremendous interest” in the renovated BMO Centre’s convention- and event-hosting capacity, with 27 conventions already on the books.

The Stampede CEO was bullish on the combined efforts for the Rivers District.

“Those efforts will produce spaces that can be enjoyed by both Calgarians and those who come from out of town, and they directly contribute to the Calgary Stampede’s vision of creating a world class, year round gathering place for the community,” Cowley said.

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