A Bearspaw resident was instrumental in the naming and evolution of the Jaipur Bridge in Calgary


More than fifty years after its construction, Calgary’s Jaipur Pedestrian Bridge is undergoing a major rehabilitation as part of a project to revitalize the Eau Claire neighborhood in the city’s downtown core.

More than fifty years after its construction, Calgary’s Jaipur Pedestrian Bridge is undergoing a major rehabilitation as part of a project to revitalize the Eau Claire neighborhood in the city’s downtown core.

The bridge has long had a reputation as one of Calgary’s busiest pedestrian links, as it connects Eau Claire to the popular Prince’s Island Park. Its history dates back to the late 1960s and its unique name refers to a very prominent resident of Bearspaw.

Omkar Channan, an accomplished businessman in both Calgary and Rocky View County, was directly responsible for the name of the bridge in 1994. He said he suggested the name as a way to commemorate the connection between the twin city of Calgary and Jaipur, India, where a hospital is aptly named the Jaipur Calgary Eye Hospital.

“Recognize and recognize [Jaipur’s] goodwill, I proposed the name of the bridge and the important site of the city, ”said Channan.

The sister city connection between Jaipur and Calgary dates back to 1973, when common interests in industries such as engineering and manufacturing first inspired the link. According to Channan, the relationship grew stronger in the 1990s, when he traveled to Jaipur to gauge the city’s interest in maintaining the connection.

Upon his return, Channan stressed to the City of Calgary that there should be interaction between the two municipalities, otherwise the bond would have no real value. That same year, he founded and incorporated the Calgary-Jaipur Development Foundation to create legitimacy for the connection.

The Kenyan-born businessman said Calgary City Council approved his recommendations for forming the foundation, with the creation of a parallel organization in Jaipur with identical goals.

“Inactivity in the two cities did not achieve the goal of the twinning,” Channan said in an email to Rocky View Weekly. “To cement the relationship, I made the integration into the two vibrant cities of foundations with identical goals – we continue to make sure our flagship products do important collaborative work.

“The support and approval of the City has become a reason for success.

Construction of a new improved bridge in Jaipur is expected to be completed in the fall of 2022, replacing the existing bridge as it suffers from wear and tear from water and salt. While the current structure is at the end of its life, the new design includes a three-span bridge with light ramps that provide views of the surrounding park and river.

According to the City of Calgary website, the newly designed bridge will almost double in width to six meters, and will be raised one meter to protect against flooding. The bridge will also accommodate emergency vehicles that need access to Prince’s Island Park, while maintaining access to the park and Bow River trails for cyclists and pedestrians.

“The new replacement bridge will be a perpetual reminder to generations to come that all levels of government are one of the main social actors with which non-governmental organizations (NGOs) interact or are in relation,” Channan said in his letter. electronic. “Thus, broadly influencing the different historical, cultural and economic contexts and organizational experiences of NGOs in their dealings with government takes many forms.”

In 2012, Channan was recognized for his contribution to the twin city partnership when Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi presented him with a plaque. Three years later, the Bearspaw resident was commemorated in a book titled The A-List as one of 43 Outstanding Indo-Canadians, along with those named during Pravasi Bhartiya Divas – a day of celebration in the State of Gujarat, India.

Other initiatives of the Calgary-Jaipur Development Foundation include an exhibit honoring the contributions of the Indian military to the two world wars, organized by the Museum of Regiments (now known as the Military Museum).

Channan has also appeared in a television series and a five-part documentary, titled Rajasthan the land of kings. He said the documentary helped Canadians learn more about India, its people and the twinning relationship between Calgary and Jaipur.

“[It has also] opened new doors, not only business and economic opportunities, but [it has] too [given] a better understanding of the similarities and differences between Canadians and Indians and our own Indo-Canadian community, ”he said.

The foundation also sparked the interest of the Bollywood community to shoot Indian films in Calgary. As a result, the Indian film Bekhudi was filmed in Alberta.

Channan also served as a member of the Rocky View County Appraisal and Development Appeal Boards and was the founder of the Rocky View Chamber of Commerce in 2011. Prior to that, he worked as the City of Calgary’s Chief Prosecutor of Prosecutions. department from 1977 to 1996.

Carmen Cundy, AirdrieToday.com

Follow me on twitter @carmenrcundy

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