Old Refinery Park
About the park
Old Refinery Park lies along the eastern bank of the Bow River in the southeast part of the city. The park was created in the early 1990s and occupies about 32 hectares. The name is derived, as you might guess, from the fact that there was an oil refinery on this site (from 1926 to 1976).
Refinery operations resulted in historic contamination which was addressed via a combination of risk management and remediation between 2015 and 2019. Established risk management measures are expected to be in place for 20 years. Potential options include urban transportation, research, natural areas, parklands and outdoor recreation areas. The lands will not be used for private residential or commercial development.
Experience nature in the city
The park's location provides periodic flooding that allows Balsam Poplars to thrive; they require this flooding to regenerate. Mixed with the poplars are many species commonly found in riverine forests including shrubs like willows and Water Birch and flowers such as Blue Columbine and Mealy Primrose.
Inland, there are low terraces with Trembling Aspen, various shrubs including Saskatoon, American Silverberry and Choke Cherry. American Silverberry is also known as Wolf Willow. Many of these species and some hardy exotics have been planted in the park as part of the effort to clean-up and reclaim the land.
Much of the inland area, called the "savannah" is now a mixture of native and non-native grassland. A section of sharply uneven ground, made up partly of covered rubble called the "moguls", is also being naturalized.
Certain bird species such as Cedar Waxwings and Yellow Warblers prefer to breed and feed in this type of forest. Along this stretch of the river there is an extremely high concentration of waterfowl particularly in late fall and early winter. Most of the birds are Canada Geese and Mallards. There are also many diving ducks including Buffleheads, Common Goldeneye and occasionally, Hooded Mergansers.
Due to the contamination from the oil refinery, this area was rendered unsuitable for permanent human habitation. However, with the remediation, the area is safe for recreational use and the water quality of the Bow River is not under threat. The park, with its variety of habitats, provides an important part of the effort to naturalize the city's river valleys.
There are numerous community and public parks in Calgary to explore.
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