The dynamic revitalization of the East Village, a years-long evolution that has earned awards and praise from urban design circles, could serve as a model for the redevelopment of Victoria Park according to Mayor Naheed Nenshi. Seeking to win a third term in a little over a month, Nenshi unveiled his vision for the remaining developable lots in the Rivers District, which he believes needs to leverage the work already accomplished in the East Village.
Pitched by Nenshi as a 'Cultural and Entertainment District for Calgary,' the concept positions an expanded BMO Centre at Stampede Park and a new arena for the Flames as the glue for a vibrant neighbourhood filled with modern residential units, retail and restaurant spaces, and a myriad of hotel rooms.
In a walkabout of the neighbourhood with former CFL star Jon Cornish, Nenshi eyed an expansion of Arts Commons to go along with an extensive refurbishment of Olympic Plaza. He pointed to nascent East Village landmarks like Studio Bell and the New Central Library as symbols of the power of public institutions to catalyze neighbourhood change.
The biggest anchor for Victoria Park would be the new arena. Nenshi has rejected the West Village as a possible home for the arena and field house, citing the creosote contamination on the lands and putting into question the ability of local infrastructure to accommodate the massive development. If the venue were to find a place in Victoria Park, Nenshi says, it would be served by the Red Line on the west side and an upcoming Green Line stop on the north side. With an arena and Green Line operational, Nenshi believes a new wave of development would occur. Discussions with the Flames around the Victoria Park facility had been put on hold until after the election. If Nenshi comes out victorious once again, those talks would likely be reopened.