Mature and distinctive communities are a point of pride for Calgary’s southwest residents
Lawyer Chris Davis is no stranger to Calgary’s southwest, a sprawling quadrant of the city roughly bordered by the Bow River to the north, Macleod Trail to the east, and the city limits to the south and west.
“My family has long roots in the southwest, going back to the early 1920s,” he said, adding he spent his early years growing up in Lower Mount Royal and is also running for city council in Ward 8 in this fall’s municipal election.
“Historically, there seemed to be a big divide as to whether your family chose to live north or south of the Bow River.”
Because of his familial connection, Davis found himself gravitating toward an adult life in the southwest, residing in Bankview, Elbow Park, Garrison Woods, Parkhill and Richmond-Knob Hill at various times.
Today, he and his wife live in North Glenmore, a relatively small community of some 2,380 residents, according to the 2014 Calgary Civic Census. In this neighbourhood founded in 1959 and located on the edge of North Glenmore Park, 84 per cent of residents live in single-family dwellings.
While Davis acknowledges “each quadrant has its own unique blend of geographical features, culture, and other opportunities,” he loves the attractions and amenities available to him in his relatively central southwest community.
“We have great access to the city’s primary road network of Glenmore Trail and Crowchild Trail, the cycle track system, Mount Royal University, the Flames Community Arenas, the Military Museums, Sandy Beach and the Elbow River pathway system,” he said.
Another feature Davis highlights is the southwest’s proximity to not one, but two rivers – the Bow and the Elbow. Moreover, Davis says, as many communities in the southwest have long histories – Mission, for example, was established in 1900 – “their urban forests have had a chance to develop and mature, making this part of the city more liveable.”
Alison Whitley, another longtime resident of Calgary’s southwest, also cites “the mature trees and green spaces” among the main attractions of the older communities that make up much of the southwest quadrant.
Whitley, the owner of theatre company Pegasus Performances, has lived in Calgary for more than 50 years. For the past dozen years, she and her husband have called Cougar Ridge home. Established in 2001, it’s one of the newer communities in the southwest. It borders Paskapoo Slopes and Canada Olympic Park to the north, 69th Street to the east and Bow Trail to the south. Ninety-one per cent of the community’s 6,702 residents live in single-family homes, including Whitley and her husband.
Historically, there seemed to be a big divide as to whether your family chose to live north or south of the Bow River.
“We had been living in Westgate. Bow Trail got so busy – we decided we wanted to be further away from such a major roadway,” she said.
“The southwest has everything you could need. It’s got shopping from major centres like Chinook (Centre) through to a theatre company’s favourite: thrift stores. The southwest also has good roads, theatres like the Pumphouse, recreation centres with swimming pools, etc.”
Whitley says she also likes the “variety” in housing styles and communities the southwest offers.
“It’s not all cookie-cutter and the same,” she said.
Like Whitley, Gordon Petersen lives in a community that is considered new by southwest standards: Somerset, which was founded in the mid-1990s. Unlike Cougar Ridge, however, Somerset is home to more apartment dwellers, with 17 per cent of the neighbourhood’s 8,751 residents living in apartments and three per cent in townhouses.
Petersen points to his easy access to several natural areas, including Fish Creek Park and Kananaskis Country via Highway 22x, as one of the biggest highlights of living in Calgary’s deep southwest. There aren’t any heavy industrial parks in the area either, Petersen says, which contributes to the area’s liveability.
Forty-year Braeside resident Robert Grigg describes his neighbourhood, which dates back to 1965, as one that gives him “some elbow room,” with its 60-foot lots and bungalow-style housing.
“We also like that we’re on the corner of the City, so we get the air from the mountains,” he said.
Furthermore, Grigg says, he appreciates that Braeside has a mixed population of both young and old residents from a variety of socio-economic and cultural backgrounds. Based on 2014 Civic Census data, 63 per cent of Braeside’s residents live in single-family dwellings, with 31 per cent living in townhouses and four per cent living in apartments.
The southwest also includes a number of attractive inner city communities, including Killarney, which Jill Dewes calls home.
“I love the style of houses in Killarney, the large lots and the established trees,” said Dewes, the communications director for the Killarney-Glengarry Community Association.
“We have great access to downtown and to major roads like Crowchild (Trail) and Sarcee Trail, but we also have the feel of being in a connected and vibrant neighbourhood … It just feels like home.”