Acreage appeal

Calgary-area rural communities offer residents a quiet retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city

As a former farm kid, four-time Canadian bareback champion, and former Calgary Stampede rodeo and chuckwagon manager, Robin Burwash has spent almost every day of his life enjoying the rural-lifestyle dream he now sells as a REALTOR®.

When he talks of finding space and relaxation amidst the trees and hills of acreage properties around Calgary, it comes from personal experiences.

Burwash spent 16 years as a professional bareback rider, and grew up on a farm that eventually became part of the city, not far off of Country Hills Boulevard.

During the years he spent working in Calgary with the Stampede, the best moment of his 45-minute commute to his Black Diamond acreage, he says, was crossing the city limits and entering the wide-open space of the country.

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Urban oasis

Calgary’s urban parks offer nearby residents a slice of the great outdoors in the heart of the city

At the beginning of July last year, John and Ildi Arlette took their first-ever walk through Confederation Park.

By the end of that month, they had bought a home in Mount Pleasant sitting near the crescent-shaped green space that stretches across 162 hectares – including eight hectares of wetlands – in northwest Calgary.

“We were on a date night and someone had told me about Confederation Park,” said John Arlette. “Ildi is from Ontario and I realized I hadn’t shown her much of Calgary – I hadn’t even been to the park myself.”

After that visit, the Arlettes sold their home in Signal Hill, becoming both inner-city – and park-side living – devotees.

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Making a splash

Calgary’s new lake communities experience tremendous growth

Evan Spencer enjoys the benefits of lake community living every day.

Not only does his young family – which includes his wife Anna and their two kids, Sarah and Micah – take advantage of all the recreation opportunities around Mahogany’s lake, the 34-year-old doesn’t need to step outside his neighbourhood to go to work.

Spencer works in the not-for-profit sector, and has called Mahogany home – and home office – for three years. Since moving from northwest Calgary into the growing southeast community that will have more than 20,000 residents by final build-out, he has signed on as volunteer social committee chair for the Mahogany Homeowners Association.

“It is an inclusive place to live your life,” he said. “And the lake just draws people together. It is so important to have that ‘third’ place (outside home and business) where people can gather. I often say ‘do you want to meet up for coffee, or for a walk along the wetlands?’ ”

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First of their kind

Mix of young and old call Calgary’s established lake communities home

When D’Arcy Duquette and his family moved to Calgary from Montreal, a lake in their new community was a must-have for his son and daughter.

“I moved them from a home where we had a big in-ground pool in the backyard and were surrounded by lakes,” said the 60-year-old transportation industry retiree. “They were spoiled.”

After moving into McKenzie Lake, with its 17.5-hectare man-made lake, Duquette’s children happily spent summers “in their bathing suits.”

McKenzie Lake is one of the older lake communities in Calgary, established in the late 1980s. Like the other more mature lake communities in Calgary, including Lake Bonavista (the first man-made lake in Canada, completed in 1968), Midnapore, Chaparral, Sundance, McKenzie Lake, Arbour Lake and Coral Springs, the majority of homes in McKenzie Lake are single-family and the resale market is the only option for prospective buyers.

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In search of vibrancy

Downsizing baby boomers have different needs than previous generations

What’s the difference between the baby boomer generation of empty nesters and retirees, and previous generations?

According to Calvin Buss, president of Buss Marketing and a boomer himself, today’s empty nesters, if they retire at all, want to “do things” instead of retiring “to die.”

And that new view of aging has also changed their approach to downsizing, says Buss, who has marketed and sold large condo projects in Calgary for almost three decades.

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