Oct 20, 2014

Connections




Calgary's St. Patrick's pedestrian bridge opened today. 
Over the past few days some neat stuff has happened in the downtown.  To start, Saturday morning we hosted a tour of downtown alleys as part of Wordfest. Sixty people attended of all ages, from all over the city as well as four dogs.  The tour was fascinating, people commenting on what they were not aware of like the mural alley in Chinatown.


The other event was Monday’s opening of the new St. Patrick’s Bridge over the Bow from East Village to Bridgeland. Both events highlight the importance of creating connections, enhancing our infrastructure and giving people options to get around.

First the alley walk.  I love alleys and always work to activiate them.  The new Standard Nightclub that opens this week off the alley behind the Palamino I am told is the only business operating entirely from the alley. This is not a new idea.  Only a few metres away you can see the remnants of the original plus 15 bridge from the 1920’s which was part of the first indoor mall in YYC.  Questions were asked about why there were not more businesses operating from the lane.

Well, it is important to activate our streets first. YYC has a long way to go to getting more people onto our streets at all times during the day. Think of it like an indoor mall. The stores open onto the interior, not the outside. If we made the lanes too attractive, we might do so at the expense of the street. So there is a balance and a need to get more activity onto the lanes and open up new connections, not just for getting around, but making the downtown more active.
A pedestrian bridge connecting Tuscany and Scenic Acres across Stoney Trail in the N.W.
The new bridge is a great addition to our pedestrian infrastructure.  Combined with the recently opened bridge at the mouth of the Elbow, the linkages are coming on stream just in time, as we see several projects in East Village near completion. There will be lots of new people moving about and getting them to new destinations is critical to the vision of a connected east downtown. 

And these enhanced connections serve everyone. Think of the Inglewood residents who will be using these facilities or myself riding from Mission up to the pathway along the Deerfoot.

On Sunday I took my 88 year old aunt to see the Peace Bridge.  She had always questioned the expense but I think I brought her to seeing the value.  There was a race on, people taking fall family portraits, a guitar player, people walking and cycling, the place was jumping.  I told my aunt about how the Peace Bridge was drawing international attention to our city for reasons other than oil. A different type of connection.

Our city is growing rapidly.  The alley walk brought a whole new group of people into the veins of our city, connecting them in a new way, getting people thinking differently about our city.  I know for sure many will bring family or friends down to see the mural or the Chinese village made with chopsticks, fortune cookies and soya sauce. And maybe even staying at one of the local restaurants, connecting them deeper in to the local economy.

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