Calgary’s newest pedestrian bridge, connecting East Village, St. Patrick’s Island and Bridgeland, is now open after a year-long delay caused by the 2013 flood.
St. Patrick’s Bridge was officially opened on Monday, Oct. 20, after Mayor Naheed Nenshi led a procession from Bridgeland, to the East Village end, where he cut a red banner in front of hundreds of spectators.
Nenshi talked about the importance of infrastructure like St. Patrick’s Bridge, that enables Calgarians to move around and enjoy the city.
“Transportation infrastructure is our single largest category of spending in the city, and it is one of the largest discussion points among citizens of Calgary,” Nenshi told the crowd.
“Calgary’s downtown is the heart of our city. [It] particularly needs infrastructure that makes movement in and out [of the area] easy.”
According to the mayor, transportation infrastructure is especially vital because of Calgary’s rapid expansion.
“All of our population projections have been blown out of the water. We’re growing now at nearly 40,000 citizens per year and it’s not going to get any easier,” he said.
“So we have to invest in all kinds of transportation infrastructure and we have to accommodate people who choose to walk, cycle, drive or ride transit to work.”
For Ward 7 Councillor Druh Farrell, the newly-opened bridge will provide many Calgarians with the opportunity to discover more of what the city has to offer.
“Most Calgarians have never been on St. Patrick’s Island, and I would say many Calgarians don’t even know it exists,” said Farrell.
“This remarkable 31-acre island oasis has been hiding in plain sight for decades.
With the opening of the bridge, Farrell believes that many Calgarians “are going to rediscover a long forgotten treasure and, when they do, they’re going to be in for a surprise.”
Project architect Jean Francois Blassel told spectators that the construction of the bridge was a challenge, yet quality was never compromised “in spite of the immense time pressure.”
“The bridge is not an abstract thing that was born from a solitary mind,” said Blassel.
“It results from the work, the skill and [the] dedication of a large group of people who focused on turning an idea to a physical reality.”
St. Patrick’s Bridge is part of a $45-million project to revive St. Patrick’s Island. The project will include an urban park slated to open next summer.
The bridge is expected to accommodate several thousand pedestrians each day.
We have to invest in all kinds of transportation infrastructure and we have to accommodate people who choose to walk, cycle, drive or ride transit to work – Mayor Naheed Nenshi
“[St. Patrick’s Bridge] is beautiful, and I think it will really connect us people in the north to East Village,” said Kate Reeves, a Rosedale resident who wants to move to East Village in the future.
Alana Feist, who attended the ceremony with her young son, also looks forward to having “quicker access” to East Village.
She anticipates seeing the rest of St. Patrick’s Island with her family once it opens.
“I’m excited about the park for my son when he gets a little bit bigger,” said Feist.
“I’m excited that we’ll have somewhere inner city to come play.”