Calgarians have mixed feelings about recently-opened Peace Bridge
Last Saturday marked the opening of Calgary’s controversial Peace Bridge.
On Wednesday, plans for a new bridge for St. Patrick’s Island were revealed, and it’s estimated to cost just as much as the $25-million Peace Bridge.
But this one is expected to be on budget and on time. The design was jointly created by a Calgary firm and a company in France.
It will connect the St. Patrick’s Island’s 12.5 hectares to the East Village in the south and Bridgeland in the north. Shovels are expected to hit the ground in the next few weeks.
Development of the entire island is also further along in the planning process. The city held a public consultation on Wednesday to show the latest designs and plans for the green space, and to get feedback from the community.
“The last couple of years, CMLC has been working with a lot community members in developing a master plan, or a vision, for what the island could be, as well as its connectivity to East Village and Bridgeland,” said Michael Brown of the Calgary Municipal Land Corp.
“So tonight really is the opportunity to show some of the ideas we’ve been playing with — what it could be.”
The organization says its ideas fall in line with what it has been hearing from people: don’t change it from an urban oasis with green space, and any changes or development to the island need to be done very sparingly.
The $45-million project as a whole — both the island and the bridge — is expected to be completed within the next two years.
Peace Bridge crosswalk concerns
The newly-opened Peace Bridge is attracting pedestrians and cyclists, but once they make it to Sunnyside, many people are jaywalking across four lanes of traffic.
“If there’s a break in the traffic, then I’ll do it. Otherwise, I’ll just walk around,” said Bill Winnick.
His choice is to walk to the nearest crosswalk a block away or make the dash through traffic.
A few years ago, the City of Calgary asked nearby residents if they wanted to move a nearby crosswalk closer, but they said no.
Ald. Druh Farrell says she will recommend that they now change their minds.
“I mean, it’s a nice problem to have,” she said.
“People are excited about using the bridge, but we want people to be safe, and we’re going to re-examine the route to the bridge and the pedestrian crossing on Memorial Drive.”
Farrell said she is open to suggestions and will hold public meetings on the issue.
Peace Bridge draws mixed reviews
While it was 16 months behind schedule, the Peace Bridge has been open to the public now for a few days, but people still seem to have mixed feelings about it.
“It’s pretty stunning looking, but maybe not such a careful use of tax dollars,” said one Calgary resident, who declined to be named.
For those like Andrea, who lives in Sunnyside, the Peace Bridge gives her peace of mind.
“I think it’s fantastic,” she said. “It’s definitely expensive, but I work right across the river and it takes me only five minutes now to get to work.
“I would have to admit, if I didn’t live here, I would probably be a little more vocal about that, but because it cuts seven minutes from my walk, I can get back and forth a lot quicker,” she added.
Others, like photographer Vincent Joakim, appreciate the artistic value of the structure.
“Our city is very conservative. I feel this bridge breaks the norm of how things look here,” he said. “I think it will inspire others to do artistic things.”