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‘The power of positive feedback’: Bowmont Park signs to stay – just in different places

This story is about the power of community in Calgary.

After a public outcry over the city’s initial response, bench signs in a popular northwest Calgary park are going to stick around.

You’ll just have to search for them.

Originally installed on benches at Bowmont Park, the signs told stories of extraordinary events that supposedly took place at the park.

One sign read “This bench marks the site of the first confirmed UFO landing in Calgary in 1963.”

Another told the story of Bowmont Benjy, a supposedly fictional hamster, who took off on a solo flight from the park.

After frequent park visitor Jennifer Diakiw posted about the signs on Twitter, CTV Calgary published a story. The city’s response was that it amounted to graffiti and they would be immediately removed.

Cue public response.

It even attracted a response from Ward 11 Coun. Jeromy Farkas.

There’s a message here for Calgarians.

“It’s a great demonstration of the power of positive feedback,” Diakiw said.

“You may have seen many of the messages speaking about the support for the plaques because they were good.”

She credited CTV with helping make it happen. Diakiw also said work done by Coun. Ward Sutherland’s Chief of Staff Ralph Smith helped keep the ball rolling.

City does about-face on plaques

The city quickly reversed course after seeing the public response.

“We thought it would be an issue,” said Amanda Blaxey with the City of Calgary.

“But it was actually an opportunity.”

The city has specific regulations and guidelines regarding signs and memorial plaques on benches. While these were funny and light-hearted, they didn’t fit the bill.

“People were upset that we removed them,” said Blaxey.

“That’s why we put them back.”

They won’t go back on the benches. The signs were apparently reinstalled at different locations at the park.

“The spirit of the plaques was in good humour,” said Blaxey.

“We felt that they enhanced people’s experience in the park.”

The city is using this opportunity to encourage Calgarians to go to the park.

“We are encouraging people to head out there and explore the park and find all six of them,” Blaxey said.

One person who will be joining the hunt is Diakiw.

“I’ll be an active tour guide for anyone who is interested,” she said.

“And I’ll go tomorrow to do a little celebration dance.”