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New Victoria Park master plan hints at potential future for the Saddledome

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DH Calgary Staff Jan 10, 2019 1:37 pm

The City of Calgary has some big plans for Victoria Park.

According to the Rivers District Master Plan released by the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC), part of those plans could include getting rid of the aging Scotiabank Saddledome and replacing it with a “flexible flat space” that could be used for outdoor events or parking.

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The 244-page plan did not delve into the specifics of when the ‘dome may be removed or how its ice could be replaced, however, as the question of replacing the Saddledome has long been a big fat question mark for the City, the NHL, and Calgarians alike.

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A breakdown of chapter areas in the Rivers District (CMLC)

Talks between organizations had been underway in 2017, but negotiations were abruptly halted in September of that year following disagreements over who would be paying for the over half-million dollar investment.

Councillor Jeff Davison has since reignited the hope of a new event centre in Calgary, though whether it would include an NHL-sized arena and enough seating to properly replace the Saddledome is still a question that needs answering.

And it will need to be answered within the next decade, apparently, as the Rivers District Master Plan shows the Saddledome disappear as of its 2029 rendering of the area:

0 to 10-years

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Victoria Park 0 to 10-year rendering (CMLC)

10 to 20-years

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Victoria Park 10 to 20-year rendering (CMLC)

50 years

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Victoria Park 50-year rendering (CMLC)

CMLC President and CEO Michael Brown nodded to the Flames in a statement in the release, though did not mention the Saddledome alongside the other notable structures in the area.

“It’s an area with entertainment in its DNA. It’s been home to The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth for more than a century and home to Calgary’s beloved Calgary Flames for over 30 years,” he is quoted in the plan.

“And it’s surrounded by powerful players in arts, culture, and entertainment: Glenbow Museum, Arts Commons, Studio Bell, new Central Library, TELUS Spark, Calgary Zoo, Fort Calgary and more. The stage is set for Calgary’s first master-planned culture and entertainment district.”

The plan also includes renderings for new multi-use paths in the area, a new bus and LRT framework, and an estimated 8,000 new residents calling Victoria Park home.

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A proposed bicycle framework with new multi-use paths (CMLC)

“Ultimately, east Victoria Park needs to grow as a vibrant, amenity-rich, mixed-use community that draws on the beauty of its natural surroundings, the strength of its cultural heritage and the spirit of its entertainment identity,” said Mark Johnson, president of Civitas, in the plan.

While all these changes may seem like they’re in the distant future, CMLC has already been at work for over a decade to put these pieces into place, and the Saddledome may only have a decade or so left before the Sea of Red catches a current and flows into a newer centre.

The Rivers District Master Plan will be in front of the Calgary Planning Commission on Thursday and, if approved, will go before city council for the final green light.

© 2019 Buzz Connected Media Inc.