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The Challenge facing the River Revitalization

Calgary first established itself as a community on the land where the Bow and Elbow rivers meet -- approximately where the railway yards are located now. The area east of City hall, across the Elbow River to Inglewood and Ramsay was once a thriving residential, cultural and commercial neighbourhood. Not any more.

Unfortunately, much of the area is undesirable for redevelopment because of environmental concerns and the need for extensive infrastructure upgrades. Attempts to revitalize this area over the past 30 years have met with failure. The Rivers revitalization project has an innovative new approach to change all this.

Environmental concerns are a significant deterrent to private sector investment because liabilities are difficult to estimate. In the hundred-plus years since Calgary was established, the area was home to various rail yards and industrial locations that potentially contaminated the land. Initiatives are in progress to evaluate and clean up specific sites to once again make the whole Rivers district attractive to developers.

Extensive infrastructure upgrades, such as replacing outdated water and sewer systems to increase capacity, are required to meet the needs of future residents. Redevelopment of The Rivers district has been stalled because of the expense of these upgrades.

For example:

  • many roads need to be raised one-and-a-half metres due to the flood plain
  • roads need to be relocated to create public spaces
  • curbs and sidewalks to provide a better pedestrian environment.

For more details

Read the booklet The Revitalization of The Rivers District in Calgary.