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This sum­mer, I spent a lot of time not only en­joy­ing Cal­gary’s wa­ter­front parks and path­ways, but also those in Vic­to­ria and Vancouver.

I re­flected on the lessons Cal­gary can learn from other cities re­gard­ing how to cre­ate a unique river ex­pe­ri­ence for Cal­gar­i­ans and tourists.

One of the first things I no­ticed about Vic­to­ria’s and Vancouver’s wa­ter­front de­vel­op­ments is they in­clude nu­mer­ous restau­rants and pa­tios with di­rect views of the water.

In Cal­gary, I can’t think of a sin­gle restau­rant with a good view of ei­ther the Bow or the El­bow Rivers, or the path­ways for that mat­ter.

While River Cafe has glimpses of the la­goon, that is about it.

Un­for­tu­nately, the restau­rant de­vel­op­ments at Eau Claire Mar­ket that were built in the early ’90s — Hard Rock Cafe build­ing, Bar­ley Mill and Prego — are too far re­moved from the water to pro­vide a true river ex­pe­ri­ence

I hold out hope that the re­de­vel­op­ment of the Simmons Build­ing in East Vil­lage will in­clude a rooftop pa­tio with views of the down­town sky­line and river val­ley.

I also think we should look for other op­por­tu­ni­ties for restau­rant/ cafe de­vel­op­ment along the river’s edge — such as Ed­wor­thy Park, Cal­gary Zoo and the new Harvie Pas­sage, the new $5-mil­lion kayaker’s play­ground of pools and rapids be­ing cre­ated at the weir near the In­gle­wood Bird Sanc­tu­ary.

While not a pro­po­nent of ram­pant de­vel­op­ment along the river, I think we could iden­tify key sites suit­able for pedes­trian-ori­ented de­vel­op­ments.

Restau­rants, cafes and con­ces­sion stands func­tion as places for peo­ple to con­gre­gate, rather than just walk or cy­cle by.

I can’t help but won­der if Cal­gary would be so bold as to build a restau­rant right on the river.

Frank­furt, Ger­many, has sev­eral restau­rant boats tied up to the shore on a per­ma­nent ba­sis, al­low­ing peo­ple to sit on the river and en­joy the an­i­ma­tion on both the river and the path­ways along the river’s edge.

Although Cal­gary’s rivers have no sig­nif­i­cant his­tory of nav­i­ga­tion, surely we could use our imag­i­na­tion to cre­ate some­thing would al­low peo­ple to ex­pe­ri­ence the river year-round? The City of Cal­gary Pub­lic Art Pro­gram is cur­rently gath­er­ing in­put from Cal­gar­i­ans on how to make the most of pub­lic art in Cal­gary, and what the Pro­gram can do to best serve its cit­i­zens. E-mail your ideas, to pub­li­cart@ cal­gary.ca by Sept. 30, 2011.

More than restau­rants

In Vancouver, I en­coun­tered nu­mer­ous recre­ational ac­tiv­i­ties im­me­di­ately next to its wa­ter­front path­ways — boathouses, spray parks, bas­ket­ball courts, ball hockey rinks, skate­board parks, beach vol­ley­ball courts, mas­sive out­door swim­ming pools and chil­dren’s play­grounds.

While Cal­gary has some of these ac­tiv­i­ties near its river path­ways, they are of­ten

With sum­mer raft­ing hav­ing be­come a ma­jor el­e­ment of Cal­gary’s sum­mer cul­ture, we should en­cour­age this ac­tiv­ity by cre­at­ing nu­mer­ous spots along the river for putting in and tak­ing out rafts, ca­noes and kayaks.

Parks along the river should have some sort of

Cour­tesy, Richard White

Logs can be used as nat­u­ral benches for pedes­tri­ans.

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