Thousands of eager Calgarians gathered on March 24th, 2012, waiting to be the first to cross the Peace Bridge. ”Many believe, myself included,” says Mayor Nenshi, “not enough people would use it. Let’s prove them wrong.” Not only did Calgarians prove the bridge is more than a “beautiful and bold structure” (Nenshi), but the Peace Bridge is also a symbol of Calgarians’ appreciation for art, culture and community.
Designed by Santiago Calatrava, this “feat of architecture, engineering, and beauty” (Nenshi) spans 130 meters across the Bow River. According to City of Calgary – Transportation Division, the unique design will “minimize the environmental impacts of construction and permanent bridge installation over the Bow River”.
In addition, the bridge is solidly built to withstand Calgary’s flood cycles, last a minimum of 75 years, and “act as a symbol of commitment of the people of Calgary to a healthy, active and beautiful city” (City of Calgary – Transportation).
The Peace Bridge is not just a pedestrian bridge. The 6.2 meters wide passageway includes two pedestrian walkways divided by a wide cyclist pathway, creating a more than sufficient space for both pedestrians and cyclists to commute side by side.
Celebrations were announced for 2 PM, but people began arriving on site at noon to enjoy the delicious food from the food trucks. At first, I was concerned that not many people who show up for the opening celebrations. A chill-to-the-bone wind ravaged Prince’s Island Park, and the sun seemed apathetic to the day’s joyous activities. Thousands of Calgarians braved the cold and surprised the city with a demonstration of community diversity and support.
The Peace Bridge Celebration was more than a red ribbon cutting for the opening of a new structure in Calgary. This celebration proved that “we have learned a lot as a community”, says Mayor Nenshi, and that Calgarians are able to bridge the gaps that separate us.
Elle Nguyen || Photos Courtesy of Yeats Wong & Lorie Boychuk