Green spaces in Calgary a hop, skip and a jump from all residential communities
With an average of 2,396 hours of sun each year, Calgary holds the title of Canada’s sunniest city. Not surprisingly, residents, in turn, tend to take full advantage, especially when it comes to the city’s parks and greenspaces.
Calgary boasts almost 8,000 hectares of parkland – as well as Fish Creek Provincial Park and nearby Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park. Connecting the city and its greenspaces are nearly 800 kilometres of pathways.
Whether for biking and picnics in the summer, or ice skating and cross-country skiing in the winter, here are a few of the city’s most popular parks and what they have to offer urban nature enthusiasts.
With its proximity to Shouldice Arena, Shouldice Aquatic Centre, batting cages, football fields and more, Shouldice Park is one of Calgary’s most athletic. The 28-hectare park, located in the community of Montgomery, also has Bow River access, a concession, washrooms and fire pits. The area is named for pioneer James Shouldice who donated the land in 1925 under the condition it become a park. The City developed the area for public use in the late 1960s.
Adjacent to Canada Olympic Park, the Paskapoo Slopes natural area has long been sought after by dog walkers, hikers, joggers, bird watchers and more. A residential development has been proposed for the area by Trinity Hills, which would see a mix of townhouses, a hotel and commercial offerings and pathway systems while retaining two-thirds of the natural area. Local environmentalists dubbed Save the Slopes are speaking out against the development, wanting to retain the area as is.
Once known as the North Hill Coulee, the 160-hectare Confederation Park offers pathways, tennis courts, playground areas, a rock garden, wetland and cross-country skiing and tobogganing. The park was created in 1967 to mark Canada’s centennial, and is also home to the Confederation Golf Course and the popular Lions Festival of Lights, which runs annually in December and January.
Fish Creek Park
While Sam Livingston is most popularly known as Calgary’s first settler, John and Adelaide Glenn also deserve a little credit. The Glenns first settled the Fish Creek Valley in 1873. Their land would go later through several transformations as a supply farm and cattle ranch. It was last owned by Patrick Burns of Calgary’s Big Four, who it’s said built fences to protect trees from cattle, before being purchased by the provincial government in 1972. Today, the park’s history is kept alive through the Bow Valley Ranche restaurant – on the property since 1902 – and artisan gardens.
Nose Hill Park
Named for hills resembling facial features, Nose Hill Park covers 11 square kilometres. Surrounded by
12 residential communities in the northwest, the park was created in 1980 and includes hiking trails, off-leash areas and native grasslands. Since 2006, the City has been committed to protecting the park’s natural resources through the Nose Hill Trail and Pathway Plan, which requires park users to stay on designated pathways instead of making their own.
One of Calgary’s most storied parks, Bowness is still not entirely open to the public after being ravaged by flooding in June 2013. The 30-hectare park was developed before the First World War and, in its early days, was a weekend retreat for nearby Calgarians. The park today, is probably best known for its lagoon, which has been skated on by generations of residents and their families.