Calgary's Devonian Gardens reopen

Calgary's only downtown indoor public park, originally built in 1977, has reopened after being closed since 2008 for renovations.
After four years and $37 million of renovations, a beautiful indoor park in downtown reopened. 1:53

The Devonian Gardens officially reopened Wednesday afternoon.

The downtown indoor public park, originally built in 1977, closed in 2008 for renovations.

"I’m delighted to see that this gem in our city has been restored, as it is something very special for all Calgarians to enjoy," said Mayor Naheed Nenshi in a release.  "Parks make cities vibrant, liveable and memorable. The redevelopment of Devonian Gardens has restored our city’s only indoor public park into an international destination once again."

Mayor Naheed Nenshi addresses those gathered for the grand reopening celebration of the Devonian Gardens. (CBC)

Some $37 million was spent on new plants, play areas, a new skylight and three ponds that hold koi fish.

Turtles that lived at the Devonian Gardens, which were previously left in the facility by what the city calls "irresponsible pet owners," had to be relocated to a rescue organization in British Columbia.

The city said turtles can bite or carry disease, and were being mishandled by visitors in the park. They are asking visitors to not bring turtles to the gardens now that it is open.

"The former Devonian Gardens were beloved by Calgarians," says Anne Charlton, director of city parks, in a release.  "But they were tired, and most of the materials in the garden were aging and pushing toward the end of their lifecycle. With the funding commitment from council, we were able to create a new, fresh, timeless look."

New plants include exotic varieties from Hawaii and Florida.

The gardens will continue to accommodate weddings, education programs and eventually a restaurant, which will be announced later this summer.

The more than one hectare space is open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily and is located on the fourth floor of The CORE shopping centre.

Events are planned for the next few days to celebrate the opening, including artist demonstrations, garden tours and scavenger hunts.