From gravel pit to green space: Dale Hodges Park opens to the public
Dale Hodges Park opens to the public on Wednesday, June 26 following a private dedication ceremony for the park’s namesake. Formerly known as East Bowmont Park, the park is being dedicated to Dale Hodges in recognition of his 30 years of public service and his many contributions to the city. Mr. Hodges is Calgary’s longest service member of council and took an active role in protecting and creating Calgary’s green spaces while in office.
Dale Hodges Park is the 100-acre site located west of Market Mall along the Bow River, home of the former Klippert gravel pit. According to David Harris, Project Lead for Calgary Parks “as part of The City’s commitment to building a healthy and green city, the land was acquired from Klippert Concrete in 2010 to restore the ecological integrity of the area, while at the same time enhancing its recreational and educational value for Calgarians.” Dale Hodges Park includes stormwater wetlands, wildlife habitat, trails for cycling and walking, and lookout points across the scenic river valley.
“Dale Hodges Park is a one-of-a-kind, beautiful stormwater treatment facility designed in collaboration with local artists, Sans façon. The design highlights the natural and man-made processes involved in stormwater management. This specific project brings citizens along on a journey: the stormwater originates from rain or melting snow from eight north-west Calgary neighbourhoods, and travels to Dale Hodges Park where it is filtered and treated, prior to entering The Bow River,” said Katie Black, General Manager of Community Services with The City of Calgary.
The park is one of the first of its kind in North America and the result of an innovative collaboration between artists, engineers, landscape architects, biologists, and environmental management consultants. The design brings stormwater management to the attention of Calgarians in a way that inspires curiosity, and a deeper understanding of how our natural and man-made systems interact. The unique perspectives of the team members added to the quality and creativity of this park’s design, ultimately creating an engaging and educational space for Calgarians to enjoy.
“The park’s proximity to the river presented a rare and unique opportunity to protect the Bow River, as it is estimated that the annual sediment loads to the Bow River from this area will be reduced by 50 per cent,” said Rene Letourneau, Senior Project Engineer.
Through public and stakeholder engagement, The City discovered that citizens were in support of acquiring the land and restoring it to its native habitat, while accommodating sustainable public use. The City also learned that citizens did not want to see vehicle access in the lower portion of the park and that the majority of citizens did not want this space used as an off-leash park. Citizens wishing to take their dog off-leash are able to do so in the designated off-leash areas in adjacent Bowmont Park.
Funding for the entire space is shared by Water, Parks and Public Art which resulted in costs savings. The overall budget for Dale Hodges Park is $26.8 million, which includes costs for the design and construction of the stormwater treatment system and the park, reclamation of the land and innovative public art incorporated into the design.