Revitalized St. Patrick's Island Ready to Reopen

    · 5 min read

    CMLC puts finishing touches on 31-acre recreational treasure at the heart of city centre

    Marking the end of a $20-million park space improvement program whose planning began in 2010, CMLC is inviting Calgarians to rediscover St. Patrick’s Island when the park reopens to the public on July 31, 2015 at 11:00 AM.

    “It’s been five eventful and exciting years since we began master planning for the park’s redevelopment,” says Michael Brown, President & CEO, CMLC. “In partnership with New York-based W Architecture and Denver-based Civitas – the landscape design firms we selected through a competitive RFQ process in 2012 – as well as Marmot Concrete, the project’s construction management firm, we have now realized the vision for St. Patrick’s Island.”

    Public feedback collected in 2011 included the desire to keep the 31-acre island unique, to consider flexible and multi-use designs, to address social and security issues, to make the island an all-season destination and to provide balanced programming and amenities. “The vision reflects the input of more than 6,000 Calgarians who asked that the restoration program celebrate the location of the park near where this city began and to create a living island”, adds Susan Veres, VP Marketing & Communications, CMLC.

    Following are the park features most requested by Calgarians – and the ways that CMLC fulfilled those requests:

    1 Calgarians asked for “development with a light touch…don’t over-develop…retain the natural character of the island”

    CMLC developed a master plan based on the principles of “biophilia,” a landscape design approach that nurtures the instinctive bond between people and nature and fosters harmony between constructed and natural elements.

    2 Calgarians asked for the opportunity to “put our toes in the river”

    The island’s new features include the Seasonal Breach – a restored channel where visitors can wade into the water and venture safely out onto a gravel bar – and the Cove, where visitors can fish, kayak or wade into the river’s edge.

    3 Calgarians asked for “natural pathways” and opportunities to interact with nature

    In addition to 2.3 kilometres of soft and paved pathways for running, riding and strolling, the revitalized St. Patrick’s Island features an elevated boardwalk that provides no-impact access to the Lowland Channel, a true riparian wetland at the heart of the island, as well as an entryway to the old-growth Gallery Forest that covers the south-eastern third of the island.

    4 Calgarians asked for “features that accommodate family fun all year long”

    Along with specially designed play areas for children, St. Patrick’s Island’s new recreational areas include the Picnic Grove, with picnic tables, outdoor grills and plenty of room to play; and the Rise – a large hill whose south slope provides a place for summertime gathering and wintertime sledding.

    5 Calgarians asked for “small performance spaces”

    A small amphitheatre in the Confluence Plaza is suitable for pop-up community festivals, fruit & vegetable markets and food truck celebrations. The Rise is perfect for more intimate theatrical or musical performances.

    6 Calgarians asked for “engaging public art”

    Two weeks ago, Michel de Broin’s Bloom – the third permanent installation in CMLC’s Art in the Public Realm program – was installed on St. Patrick’s Island

    “There is no doubt that the island will surprise and delight visitors, notes Neil MacKimmie, Senior Development Manager, CMLC. The project team has worked hard to ensure the space exceeded all expectations; we’re very proud of what we have accomplished here.”

    For the next several years, CMLC will maintain responsibility for event programming on St. Patrick’s Island as well as park maintenance. For the balance of summer 2015, programming will include Summer Blockbusters Outdoor Movie Series; Calgary Public Library Storytime; Fly Fishing Workshops; Sketching Classes; and much more. (For a complete calendar of events, see

    A grand re-opening celebration and ribbon cutting ceremony is being planned for September 15 in conjunction with the 2015 Beakerhead Festival. The event will be free to the public; more details to follow.

    Visitors can access St. Patrick’s Island via St. Patrick’s Bridge from East Village or via Zoo Road (12 Street NE).

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