Geoffrey Vanderburg, president of the Lakeview Community Association, says Calgary’s reservoir communities give residents a special connection with nature. Wil Andruschak / For CREB® Now

Life on the water

Reservoir-community residents feel nurtured by nature

For most homeowners, the idea of stepping outside and being immersed in nature with peaceful walking trails, busy beavers and stunning sunsets is the stuff of dreams. For residents of communities around the Glenmore Reservoir, however, it’s just another day in paradise.

Perched on the Elbow River, the Glenmore Reservoir and Dam were constructed in 1933 to provide Calgarians a safe and sufficient supply of drinking water. While they certainly do that, they offer so much more.

“The reservoir has given residents a special connection to the environment,” said Geoffrey Vanderburg, president of the Lakeview Community Association.

It was the proximity to the reservoir and the area’s natural beauty that drew Vanderburg and his wife to Lakeview 17 years ago.

“We’ve raised four children here and the reservoir is a big part of our lives,” he said. “It means family walks through The Weaselhead, canoe rides on the water or just admiring the sunset as the beavers go about their business in the river.”

It also means honouring the “three Rs”: rules, restrictions and responsibilities.

“During the winter, we have to stay off the reservoir, as fluctuating water levels make the ice unsafe for walking or skating. In summer, we can’t swim in the reservoir or use soft bottom boats or stand-up paddle boards. We must also keep pets away from the water’s edge as this is our source of drinking water,” said Vanderburg.

Other rules include no drinking of alcohol, no inflatables and the mandatory use of approved life jackets or personal flotation devices at all times while a boat is on the water.

Then there’s the unwritten but serious obligation that flows from reservoir living.

“We’ve raised four children here and the reservoir is a big part of our lives. It means family walks through The Weaselhead, canoe rides on the water or just admiring the sunset as the beavers go about their business in the river.” – Geoffrey Vanderburg, president of the Lakeview Community Association

“It’s important to recognize that the reservoir and its natural habitats are adjacent to communities like Lakeview, but not part of them,” said Vanderburg.

“Because no one community is directly responsible for these natural areas, it’s incumbent upon all of us who are lucky enough to live by the reservoir to take care of it as best we can.”

Also feeling fortunate is Robb Oliver, who moved to Lakeview in 2007 with his wife in search of a family community. Given that they are now raising three children, it seems they found what they were looking for.

“Thanks to The Weaselhead and the reservoir, my kids can experience things that my wife and I grew up doing and grew to love,” said Oliver.

That includes everything from trail running and kayaking in the summer to cross-country skiing and snowshoeing over the winter months.

“I was a Cub Scout leader for quite a while and I took my group down to learn about different plants and the history of the area, and just recently my five-year-old son and I finished a short canoe trip,” said Oliver. “This is a special place for us – it’s a little piece of the outdoors that you just don’t find everywhere.”

While they miss out on certain perks enjoyed by those in communities with manmade lakes, such as swimming and using soft-bottom boats, most residents feel it’s a small sacrifice given the benefits.

“Here we get to enjoy natural beauty and mature trees,” said Vanderburg. “Neighbourhoods with manmade lakes tend to be newer ones, whereas we’ve been around since 1962 and share a unique community spirit.”

Not to discount the need for clean drinking water, but what really sets reservoir living apart is the blend of urban convenience and the wonders that only Mother Nature can bestow. Given all of that, the advice for visitors or new arrivals to Calgary’s reservoir communities is simple: drink it all in.

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