New Road Work initiative launched to BUMP safety up a notch in downtown Calgary

A parklet painted by Syd the Artiste and J. Broz in Kensington Plaza. Photo: KIRSTEN PHILLIPS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

Local artists are bringing life back to downtown Calgary with vibrant colours – for safety’s sake.

BUMP, the City of Calgary and Business Improvement Areas teamed up to bring bright, colourful brighten up busy downtown streets with local art, while also amplifying safety.

Phase two of the project launched today, with 30 concrete jersey barriers painted by nine local artists.

“It’s been such a tough and dismal year; we wanted to put some colour and fun back into the city,” Lola Saik, one of the nine artists, said.

The bright barriers have been distributed amongst eight Business Improvement Areas (BIAs): Downtown, 17th Avenue, 4th Street, Beltline Blox, Victoria Park, Inglewood, Bridgeland and Kensington.

The aim is to provide additional public space on streets, transform popular downtown streets into an open air art gallery and enhance safety for on street patios in support of local businesses.

“The temporary patio bump outs help keep staff and patrons safe by allowing more space for physical distancing,” the City of Calgary said in a statement.

“And now, thanks to the street art project, the plain concrete barriers that are adding some extra protection for pedestrians and patrons from traffic are sporting some artist flair.”

Ward 8 Coun. Evan Woolley has shown support for the new initiative.

“I’m thrilled that BUMP was able to collaborate with various City of Calgary departments on Road Works Series to provide opportunity to artists, who have been some of the hardest hit during the pandemic,” Woolley said.

“The painted barriers will provide a unique blend of safety and excitement to the patios in our most concentrated commercial areas.”

Parklets

The City funded and developed two parklets by cutting holes in seacans and adding infrastructure.

“BUMP was commissioned to paint them to make them works of art as well as additional adaptive park spaces,” Julia Schreiber, Murals Director for BUMP, said.

The parklet features multiple benches, blooming flowers and a ramp to enter the space. KIRSTEN PHILLIPS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

“There’s more to murals than just walls. The Road Works series brings local artists to new surfaces on Calgary streets in support of local businesses and community.”

Although the Road Work Series is not an official part of the 2021 BUMP Festival, running from August 2 to 28, it was BUMP’s main focus.

“We’re focusing with these roadworks theories on hiring exclusively Calgary artists to give some attention to local artists that have been affected by the pandemic and then bring some nicer spaces outside of businesses that have also been affected by the pandemic,” Schreiber said.

The parklets will be up until middle to late fall, then they will be re-homed for the winter to allow for snow clearing.

“The idea is to put them into like existing parks, maybe next to like a skating race so there’s a place to lace up your skates and that kind of thing … [and] provide a little bit more color to the city during such an ugly gray month,” she said.

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