A “Log Jam” is freeing up the flow of water through the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary.
On Monday, the City of Calgary opened the newly renovated urban wildlife habitat, complete with a new pedestrian bridge dubbed “Log Jam.”
The city made changes to the waterways following the aftermath of the 2013 flood and now the lagoon in the sanctuary has been reconnected to the Bow River.
“The lagoon was stagnant, not supporting a lot of wildlife,” Tim Knowles said. “The birds were coming, but there were many fish and things.”
Knowles, an artist, worked closely with engineers, hydrologists and naturalists to design the path of the new channel connecting the lagoon to the Bow as part of the three-year project. He spent a month closely chronicling movement of people, animals and vegetation within the bird sanctuary.
Behind the scenes at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary
“All of that produced drawing that were shown at Contemporary Calgary and also gave me a really deep understanding of how wildlife and people move around the lagoon,” he said.
The path for the channel leading to the lagoon was selected to save as many existing trees as possible. Officials said it will also help mitigate against future floods.
“We’ve allowed more water to flow through this particular area and reducing the risk of flooding on the far bank like along the golf course,” project manager Rene Letourneau said.
Both a pedestrian crossing and an observation space, Log Jam was created using the trees that needed to come down to create the channel.
“So you’ve got this mixture of these sort of logs piled around like a log jam and then this highly machined timber,” Knowles said.
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“This project is a great example of the City of Calgary’s commitment to this land and all of its living creatures,” Mayor Jyoti Gondek said.
The bird sanctuary improvements came in at a $9.7 million price tag – $9 million from city coffers and the balance from provincial and federal funding.
“I’m told that hard engineering, like large rocks, can effectively protect riverbanks against erosion, but don’t offer too many other environmental benefits,” Chantelle de Jonge said, speaking on behalf of Minister of Environment and Protected Areas Rebecca Schulz. “But the City of Calgary’s approach took things a step further, and they used both natural and synthetic materials to stabilize the slopes, reduce erosion and establish vegetation.
“By using willows and other native plants the site has improved the habitat for fish, for birds and for other wildlife in this park.”
The Inglewood Bird Sanctuary was established in 1929 as one of the first migratory bird sanctuaries in the country and is the only federally recognized urban facility of its kind in Canada.
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