Calgary gravel pit turned park clinches national landscape award

Dale Hodges Park in Calgary's northwest not only offers green space for visitors but integrates a storm water treatment infrastructure in its design.

Dale Hodges Park is the former site of the Klippert gravel pit

Stormwater from rain or melting snow from eight northwest Calgary neighbourhoods travels to Dale Hodges Park where it is filtered and treated prior to entering the Bow River. (City of Calgary)

A Calgary park, formerly a gravel pit, has won the highest award of honour from the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects for its use of environmental landscape design.

The Jury's Award of Excellence was announced last week. Criteria includes use of innovation in concept, and a level of environmental and social awareness.

Dale Hodges Park, on the Bow River south of Varsity Estates, is the transformed site of the former Klippert gravel pit.

The 40-hectare park is the result of a design collaboration between Calgary-based Sans Façon for Watershed+, O2 Planning + Design, Source 2 Source and AECOM.

The multimillion-dollar transformation was a result of a collaboration between city parks, water resources and public art departments.

"The real learning lesson here, is just working with what you have and what you have at hand to create something completely different and completely unexpected," said David Harrison, a landscape architect with the City of Calgary, on the Calgary Eyeopener Tuesday.

Dale Hodges Park covers the 16-hectare site of the former Klippert Concrete gravel pit in northwest Calgary. (City of Calgary)

The park treats storm water, caused by rain and melted snow, before it flows in the Bow River while maintaining a visually appealing public area.

"The water comes in ... through the underground piping and then it just goes through these wetlands and the structures," he said.

 "The whole idea is to slow down the movement of the water so that the sediment just drops out. And so by the time it reaches the Bow River, it's reduced."

Dale Hodges Park

2 years ago
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Dale Hodges Park sits on land that was previously used as a gravel pit.

Harrison says more than 50 per cent of the sediment that is originally in the storm water gets filtered out, so the water is cleaner as it flows from the streets into the river.

The water infrastructure is also part of a landscape art for visitors, part of what went into the award win.

"It's really so integrated ... the engineering of the storm water infrastructure," said Harrison.

"You more experience it ... you hear the water, you see the water, you see the various locations through the park where the water is treated in different ways. And that's really the art."

With pathways criss-crossing through the park, the main access is near Home Road and 52nd Street N.W.

The park's budget, including designing and building the water treatment infrastructure, construction of the park, and public art elements, came to just under $27 million. 

Intended to show the cohesion between "functional" and "natural" spaces, the park is part of the city's goals for environmental sustainability, according to their website.

"There's a lot of beautiful and entertaining and exciting spots within the park," said Harrison.

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.