City-Building in 2022 Underscored by Diversity and Healing
CMLC begins the year with action, progress and reconciliation
Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC)—Calgary’s team of go-to city-building placemakers—continues to find meaningful ways to reenergize downtown Calgary’s east end and to create places and spaces that are welcoming and meaningful for all.
This year will be marked by the themes embodied in all of CMLC’s work over its 15-year history—progress, revitalization, vibrancy and community—and also by broader themes of inclusivity and healing as the city continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and as CMLC works to meaningfully weave Calgary’s diverse culture and history into its redevelopment of the Rivers District.
The hundreds of LED lights that illuminate Reconciliation Bridge were due to be upgraded this year and CMLC took the opportunity to re-evaluate its community lighting program and develop a new program that would prioritize Indigenous stories in the annual lighting calendar. The new programmable lighting system will recognize and celebrate important Indigenous stories, history and culture, regularly cycling through dazzling sequences that mark changes in the seasons, the lunar cycle, and special events and occasions.
Based on collaboration and input from the City of Calgary’s Indigenous Relations Office, the lighting patterns will pay tribute to significant dates such as national days of awareness and action for Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls, National Aboriginal Awareness Week, Métis Week and the National Day for Truth & Reconciliation. The lights will also display patterns that evoke elements of Indigenous culture such as the medicine wheel and beadwork. There are many more lighting patterns that reflect important stories from the Indigenous worldview.
Stewart Breaker from the City of Calgary’s Indigenous Relations Office speaks to this important recognition. “Spanning the Namaahkaa or Bow River, the Reconciliation Bridge stands in a place of great meaning for the Indigenous peoples of southern Alberta. We are pleased to support this lighting program to honour Calgary’s Indigenous culture and history year-round and as a part of the ongoing Indigenous reconciliation and healing that’s so important for our city.”
CMLC President & CEO Kate Thompson adds, “Together with our partners at the City of Calgary and lightSpace at SMP Engineering, CMLC is pleased to have this opportunity to recognize our city’s rich Indigenous history and bring attention to important elements of Indigenous culture on this prominent downtown landmark. Through all seasons, these lights will serve as reminders of our heritage.”
The Indigenous lighting sequences were imagined and designed by Calgary-based lighting designers from lightSPACE at SMP Engineering and WOW Lighting. “We’re proud to lend our expertise to this meaningful initiative to illuminate the bridge in ways that both foster solemn reflection and celebrate rich culture,” said Geoff Bouckley of lightSPACE. “We all have a part to play in reconciliation and healing, and we are grateful to partner with organizations like CMLC and the City of Calgary who are committed to doing the work and open to creative initiatives like this one.”
As CMLC has done for several years, community members are also welcome to request lighting tributes to recognize charity events, community milestones, and city events and festivals. CMLC will grant requests—provided they don’t conflict with pre-planned lighting programs—on a first-come, first-served basis at evexperience.com/community-programming.
In addition to CMLC’s efforts to honour Indigenous history and community, the organization has another busy year ahead with work continuing on major projects and important community-building activities designed to give all Calgarians opportunities to connect with their community. Over the course of 2022, CMLC will continue to advance key city-building projects in the Rivers District and beyond:
· The Arts Commons Transformation (ACT)—a joint project by CMLC, the City of Calgary and Arts Commons to modernize and expand Calgary’s premier arts centre—is advancing on schedule. CMLC announced the ACT design team in February 2021 and will be working through the design stages throughout 2022
· The 17th Ave SE extension and Victoria Park/Stampede Station rebuild is also making great progress. Last year, crews added a new street-level pedestrian crossing into Stampede Park and an at-grade access to the LRT station—features that improve safety and accessibility in the area. CMLC will continue to work collaboratively with the City to complete the new station by 2023.
· The BMO Centre’s $500-million expansion, a CMLC-managed project, is a key component of The Culture + Entertainment District that has been visibly taking shape since breaking ground last October. Construction on the building envelope, including the steel structure, is well underway, and the project remains on track for completion in 2024.
· CMLC is transforming a four-block section of Stampede Trail (Olympic Way) between 12th Avenue and 17th Avenue SE into a “Festival Street” through streetscaping and roadway enhancements. When complete, this will be a vibrant multi-modal retail and commercial corridor. CMLC is coordinating the work with nearby construction on other projects, including the BMO Centre expansion, 17th Avenue SE extension and the City’s Green Line installation.
“We are thrilled to see these major projects take big steps forward this year, as they contribute to shaping downtown Calgary’s east end into a dynamic and magnetic district where people can gather to celebrate our wonderful city,” says Kate. “CMLC is focused on coordinating the complex work that’s happening in a few densely packed blocks of the city in our role as stewards of the master plan to ensure it all unfolds as smoothly and efficiently as possible.”
Meanwhile, new residential and commercial developments are adding homes, services and diversity to East Village. Construction on Arris—East Village’s third residential rental tower—is underway, and its units will begin leasing in late 2023. Waterfront commercial and residential spaces are coming to EV606, and CMLC continues to welcome a steady stream of new businesses to the district, including cōchu at Hillier Block and more coming later this year.
This morning, Elders from Stoney Nakoda Nation and Siksika Nation gave a ceremonial blessing at the bridge. We invite East Village residents to join us this evening at 5:30pm as we officially begin the new lighting program. More details on the lighting upgrade and this evenings' event at the link.