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RiverWalk Stands Up to the Ultimate Resiliency Test

We’re proud of the RiverWalk area we designed along the south bank of Bow River in downtown Calgary. Through the design, we managed to preserve the natural river environment, while promoting safe recreational activity along the river, and catalyzing a redevelopment effort for the previously underutilized area. On top of that, we came up with a resilient design that stood up to the ultimate test in the 2013 floods. The design incorporated a type of bioengineering; using natural materials like large plants and hearty shrubs as opposed to man-made materials like concrete engineered walls. Even though RiverWalk was only just completed in the fall of 2012, 70% of the four kilometre-long site survived the racing waters with only minimal damage. The Fort Calgary area received the worst of the damage, probably because the vegetation in that area was the last to be completed and it did not have as much time to grow and fortify.

Our original RiverWalk client, Calgary Municipal Land Corporation, called us again after the floods. They asked us to work with additional hydrology consultants to create a comprehensive report of the damages and then proceed to quickly attend to the areas in need. We knew the repair process had to go fast, to get the RiverWalk path back to a stage where the vegetation could become well established in time for the upcoming year.

RiverWalk was back in business in time for fall, well before most other city-wide restoration projects. This was in part due to our original design decisions, explains Ryan Mortson, one of our Landscape Architects. He said that through comparison with other sites during the disaster, the older man-made stabilization methods did not withstand the flood as well as the bioengineering system at RiverWalk.  Just another testament to the fact that nature knows best.

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