Manmeet Singh Bhullar Park 'will embody his spirit as well as his strength'

The widow of Calgary MLA Manmeet Bhullar says a park being built in his name will improve the community and honour his legacy in a tangible way.

Northeast green space to be named after Calgary MLA killed in highway crash

A rendering of what Manmeet Bhullar Park will look like once it's built. The northeast green space is being named after the late MLA for Calgary-Greenway, inset, who was killed while trying to help a motorist in distress in 2015. (Main: Parks Foundation Calgary, Inset: CBC)

Manmeet Bhullar's widow says a park being built in his name will improve the community and honour his legacy in a tangible way.

"It means a lot to our family," Namrita Rattan said Thursday as plans for the five-hectare green space were unveiled.

"This park, with its majestic trees, beautiful, vibrant colours and multi-purpose gathering spaces, will embody his spirit as well as his strength."

Bhullar, the former MLA for Calgary-Greenway, was killed in November 2015 when he was hit by an out-of-control semi while trying to help a stranded motorist on Highway 2.

He was 35 years old.

Construction on Manmeet Singh Bhullar Park in the northeast community of Taradale is set to begin in a few months and be completed in 2018.

"It's going to be really, remarkably beautiful," said Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, who recalled how Bhullar offered words of encouragement when he was first considering a run at city council.

Manmeet Singh Bhullar Park will include several features intended to serve as gathering places for people from all walks of life. (Parks Foundation Calgary)

The mayor said Bhullar's love for community and commitment to public service transcended party lines, and his style of politics ran counter to the trend "where public discourse has become so harsh, so us-versus-them, so partisan."

"He was a fierce competitor — he was not a softy, that guy," Nenshi said.

"But he always did it in a way that exemplified the sheer humanity of what we were doing — the humanity of the political process, the humanity of trying to build community better, together. And we could use a lot more of that, today."

The park will be built adjacent to a section of the Rotary/Mattamy Greenway, a 150-kilometre, multi-use pathway that Parks Foundation Calgary is building around the entire perimeter of the city.

"It was with Manmeet's support that the project really took hold," said Sheila Taylor, the foundation's executive director.

"In fact, without his direct support, the Greenway project would not be where it is today, which is a mere 10 kilometres from completion."

The foundation is also co-ordinating the construction of the park, with donated land from the province and funding from the city and the Calgary Foundation.

Taylor said the manicured park will include a gathering plaza, groves of trees, and "harvest tables" that will seat up to 20 people each.

Rattan recalled how she and Bhullar used to walk along the Greenway as a couple, enjoying the natural environment and the other people they encountered along the way.

Namrita Rattan was married to Manmeet Bhullar and says her late husband would have loved the park that is being built in his honour. (Justin Pennell/CBC)

"During the most trying moments of his career as the minister of human services, we spent a lot of time walking on the Greenway," Rattan said.

"I feel like these tranquil times outdoors gave him the chance to restore, reflect and approach his challenges with renewed perspective."

She hopes the new park, next to the Greenway, will offer similar comfort to the community for generations to come.

That's how Bhullar would have wanted it, she said: "A place for Calgarians from all walks of life to connect."