Bend in the Bow
Client The City of Calgary
Location Calgary | Alberta | Canada
Bend in the Bow is a project that connects the Inglewood Wildlands and Inglewood Bird Sanctuary with Pearce Estate Park and the adjoining green spaces along the Bow River. One of the most complex and challenging projects O2 Planning + Design has undertaken, the scope encompasses a Design Development Plan for over 100 hectares of existing park space. The five main project goals were: to retain and enhance the cultural and natural significance of the site; enhance educational opportunities; improve connections between existing parks; explore complementary uses across the parks; and address ways to conserve, enhance and celebrate the only urban-centred, federally-recognized bird sanctuary in Canada.
Public engagement turned potentially divisive issues into opportunities for shared vision. Stakeholders included multiple City departments, including public art, and 13 external organizations. Stakeholders were generally divided between the need to conserve nature, the need to celebrate the significant cultural and built heritage of this area and recreational users. The format of the engagement was structured to facilitate a balanced understanding of each stakeholder group’s perspectives, and to emphasize where values were in line, rather than in conflict. Clear communication about project goals, as well as parallel projects in and around the site, facilitated actionable conversations. The richness of the feedback derived from the engagement led to the vision of “a park that tells stories” — from stories about First Nations and European settlers to the movement of the river and wildlife.