The design is out of the closet. It’s a long red-seared hotdog of a structure. That $22-million pedestrian bridge approved by council earlier this year is now rising in price, and will traverse across the Bow River near Eau Claire Market.
The bridge’s design was released this week. It has paths for walkers and cyclists. At the helm of the drawing table is Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.
Oh, I had prayed those millions might net us something wonderful. Then the price could be justified. Admittedly, Calatrava had a tough gig: The city won’t allow any beams or structures in the river itself. It must spaaaan.
A great design could have helped in the court of public opinion. Then, Calgarians could overlook the harsh fact that the bridge is altogether unnecessary. There are two other pedestrian bridges nearby at Kensington and at the Eau Claire Market.
Oh, I hoped! The disappointing design shows a long tubular structure with plexiglass cutouts and a criss-cross of red stripes. Red! Maybe this is a joke; it’s our city’s colourful take on a ribbed condom. Pleasure promised. Pleasure denied. It was all in the marketing.
Then there’s the name: Peace Bridge. There is a Peace Bridge. I grew up near it. And it’s a beauty. The Peace Bridge (Canada needs only one) spans the majestic Niagara River and connects Fort Erie, Ont., with Buffalo, N.Y. The Peace Bridge is the gateway to the Buffalo Bills, the NHL Sabres, chicken wings, and the Albright-Knox Museum. On grad night, we hopped between cars while waiting in line to pay the toll. Opened in 1927, the Peace Bridge marks a century of peace between Canada and the United States. Canadians and Americans worked on the concrete and steel marvel together.
As is, Calgary’s footbridge reminds me of the now famous 1988 U.S. vice-presidential debate.
That was when Lloyd Bentsen famously retorted to Dan Quayle: “Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.
Now simply replace Jack Kennedy with “Peace Bridge.”
“City council, we’ve seen the Peace Bridge. We’ve marvelled at the Peace Bridge. We’ve taken pictures of the majestic arches of the Peace Bridge. Long hotdog spanning the Bow River, you’re no Peace Bridge.”
You will go down in history as just being wrong.