On the heels of the Peace Bridge controversy, competition for design of a second downtown pedestrian and cyclist bridge is now open.
The Calgary Municipal Land Corp. (CMLC) announced yesterday a Sept. 14 deadline for the delivery of architectural concepts for the construction of the St. Patrick’s Island Bridge, connecting the north side of the Bow River near Bridgeland with the East Village.
This bridge will effectively replace an aging GC King Bridge on the west side of the island. A landing area on St. Patrick’s Island is also expected to be part of the bridge’s design.
Chris Ollenberger, president and CEO of the CMLC, is prepared for public debate, both for and against this project, with a price tag that could reach $25 million.
“I think that conversation is good. I think it’s time for Calgary to discuss where we want to go and what we want to be as a city,” said Ollenberger, adding the Peace Bridge debate will likely spark more intense scrutiny on this bridge than what might have otherwise occurred.
Ollenberger said he hopes the chosen concept — after meeting a rigorous set of guidelines, including being cost-effective and fitting in with the natural river walk environment — will be avant-garde. It will be the primary component in opening up St. Patrick’s Island for greater recreational and cultural activity.
“We didn’t say (in our guidelines) ‘please build me a boring concrete bridge, or build me a bridge that looks like Calatrava’s,’” he said.
“We left the door open for innovation.”
Ald. Ric McIver said he appreciates that this bridge project has a design competition — unlike the Peace Bridge, he noted — and he hopes it will ensure this city council-approved project will get the most bang for the buck.
“I hope in this deal we’ll have a little more care and respect for the taxpayers,” he said.
Ollenberger said this bridge isn’t funded from the general tax pool, but rather from a community revitalization levy, effectively taxing only those in the surrounding areas.
Design criteria are available at calgarymlc.ca.