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Photo courtesy of O2 Planning + Design


WATERSHED+ is about a system, a city, and an emotional connection between citizens and their place in the environment, it offers complementary ideas about the role of the artist and how artwork can be created, responsive, and embedded.

Its guiding motive is to embed, not so much the artist, as their creative process within the core activities of a City department – Utilities & Environmental Protection (UEP) – responsible for the well-being and care of Calgary’s water resource. The program creates space for long-term, cross-disciplinary relationships and for collaborations to grow, fostering a curiosity about the city while sharing interests and multiple perspectives to explore how people connect to their environment.

It is an optimistic gesture, embodying a different mode of operation, a different reality, complimentary, responsive, richer, beyond silos. The legacy, beyond the works produced, is the effect it has had on all of those who have been involved (citizens, staff, artists) and the way we each think and feel, the connection we feel to one another’s work, our watershed, our environment, our city. [1]

Dale Hodges Park is the site of the former Klippert gravel pit. The City purchased the land to restore the environmental health of the area, and realized an opportunity to address the stormwater pipes carrying untreated stormwater into the Bow River. This project is a unique collaboration between Parks, Water Resources and Public Art.

The park is located along the northern bank of the Bow River and treats the stormwater (runoff from rain or melting snow) flowing from neighbouring communities in northwest Calgary before it enters the Bow River.

The park makes the stormwater treatment process visible as it travels to the Bow River. The project shows citizens how stormwater is managed and aims to inspire curiosity and a deeper understanding of how our natural and manmade systems interact.

The stormwater treatment system is estimated to reduce sediment in stormwater by 50 per cent, helping to protect our river system.

The initial investment in Dale Hodges Park was made in 2010 when The City acquired the land from Klippert Concrete. As part of The City's ongoing commitment to environmental sustainability, the ecological integrity of the area was restored while enhancing the park's recreational and educational values. What was once a contaminated gravel pit has now been remediated and transformed into a functional, natural space that not only treats stormwater, but can be enjoyed and explored by Calgarians for generations to come.

We looked at the stormwater treatment as an opportunity rather than an inconvenient necessity, defining the park's character by becoming the driver to generate a landscape and a series of habitats unique to this occasion.

Instead of an invisible system disconnected from citizens, we chose to use the journey of the stormwater and its part in the creation of different habitats to be apparent throughout. The design expresses the stages of this active treatment train and the role of the stormwater management system in a kinetic and expressive way.

All at once the stormwater is creating habitat, being cleaned and expressing the process at work. The park is designed to stimulate the public curiosity throughout, becoming a destination for enjoyment and, in all manner of ways, adding an emotional connection between citizens and their watershed.

– Sans Façon [2]


CSLA Jury’s Award of Excellence, Large-Scale Public Landscapes, 2021 


[1]       “Watershed+.” Sans façon. Accessed August 6, 2021. http://Sansfacon.org/watershed.

[2]        “Dale Hodges Park.” https://www.calgary.ca. Accessed August 6, 2021. https://www.calgary.ca/csps/recreation/public-art/dale-hodges-park-public-artwork.html.

Additional information:

“Calgary Gravel Pit Turned Park Clinches National LANDSCAPE Award | CBC News.” CBCnews. CBC/Radio Canada, April 14, 2021. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/dale-hodges-park-landscape-award-1.5986365.

Dale Hodges Park. The City of Calgary. YouTube, 2019. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZAqzZpVFTY.

“Dale Hodges Park.” Alberta Emerald Foundation. Accessed August 6, 2021. https://emeraldfoundation.ca/aef_awards/dalehodgespark/.

“Dale Hodges Park.” CSLA. Accessed August 6, 2021. https://www.csla-aapc.ca/awards-atlas/dale-hodges-park.

“Dale Hodges Park.” O2 Planning + Design. Accessed August 6, 2021. https://www.o2design.com/dale-hodges-park.

Sans façon. Accessed August 6, 2021. https://www.sansfacon.org/.

“Watershed+.” watershedplus.ca. Accessed August 6, 2021. http://www.watershedplus.ca/.

Project Title: Dale Hodges Park (part of Watershed+)
Artists:  Sans Façon, O2 Planning + Design
Year: 2017

Place: Calgary, Alberta

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