The wait for the long-awaited reopening of Jack Long Park in Inglewood is now over.
After nearly four years of construction that was delayed by everything from archaeological finds, to supply chain issues, and of course Covid-19, the park officially opened to the public on Tuesday.
Among the new additions to the park are paved pathway areas that also serve as spaces for musical concerts, theatre performances, and cultural gatherings. It also boasts a rain garden, guitar-themed bike racks reflecting the musical heritage of the area, natural play areas, picnic tables, and an Indigenous-inspired circular space.
Particularly special to the design was incorporating the theme of the Bow and Elbow River confluence through the shape and materials used for the pathways. Embedded into the concrete are blue glass pieces that will glow at night.
The cost to re-develop the park was approximately $1 million.
“I just want to take stock of where we are right now, because Jack Long’s impact on this landscape is all around us,” said Ward 9 Councillor Gian-Carlo Carra at the park opening.
“Jack Long was a young architect who came out west and found a neighbourhood like Inglewood, a place that had a deep history, that had political and social capital, and he rolled up his sleeves and he became an amazing leader within the community,” he said.
Jack Long’s legacy
Coun. Carra said that the park honoured Long’s memory and legacy. He reflected on Long’s passion to preserve Calgary’s history in the 1960s when that was not an important social value, and how the current design incorporated much of that preserved history.
Long’s daughter Margot Long, a principal landscape architect with PWL Partnership, served as the landscape architect for the redevelopment project.
Calgary Parks director Kyle Ripley said having Margot Long design the park was a wonderful way to continue Jack’s legacy.
Margot Long said that the moment of unveiling the park to the public that honoured her father was surreal.
“The trees will last hundreds of years, the park will probably always be here, and there’s pre-contact and colonial archives buried here,” she said.
“It’s a long, long legacy that is really important, and it is a bit surreal.”
Community engagement, history
The initial consultation process to redevelop the park began more than 10 years ago. At that time, Margot Long did workshops and consultations with members of the community, including school-aged children.
“We collectively designed the park and then took it out to the neighbours. So, it really is a neighbourhood park,” she said.
Construction began in October of 2018, but was halted in 2019 after significant archaeological artifacts were found. More than 1,500 items were found by archaeologists, including the City of Calgary Parks Department archaeologist Laureen Bryant.
She said that the artifacts found included items from the settlement period of Calgary in the 19th Century. They also unearthed pre-contact First Nations lithic artifacts which, while undated, are possibly thousands of years old.
A sampling of those artifacts were on display at the opening, on loan from the Province of Alberta, which automatically owns materials under archaeological investigation.
Construction of the park resumed in 2020, and was completed this year.