The ‘best backyard’

Beltline community home to relaxed atmosphere, pedestrian and cyclist accessibility

P.J Lavergne has called the Beltline home for the last 10 years.

“It’s so close to everything,” he said. “I don’t drive, so it makes life easy. I’m, at most, a 10-minute walk from anything I could ever need.”

Lavergne, who heads local rock ’n roll band Napalmpom, added the area’s relaxed atmosphere comes through in the attitude of its residents.

“And it being so pedestrian and cyclist accessible adds to that,” he said. “There’s park space, and my favourite bars and record stores and restaurants all so close. It’s like having the best backyard in the world.”

Lavergne isn’t alone. The Beltline’s population has seen positive growth in each of the last five years, according to the Calgary Civic Census. The area’s population has increased by 13 per cent from 2010 to 21,357 residents in 2014. That’s in stark contrast to 2001 and 2002 in which the Beltline consecutively recorded the largest population losses in Calgary.

Rapidly selling condo developments and an increased desire for more walkable communities have contributed to more people calling the inner city home.

For culture and retail aficionados, the Beltline is home to historical landmarks such as Lougheed House, while shoppers and event-goers have easy access to the 17th Avenue retail district and Calgary Stampede grounds.

The Beltline Community Association cites 160 restaurants, 100 boutiques, 17 art galleries more than 24 coffee shops, 37 bars and pubs and 13 green spaces in its borders.

As a Ward 8 community in Calgary, the Beltline is also one city area that will be impacted should a recently passed first reading in City council become a bylaw.

On May 13, council voted 9-6 in favour of secondary and backyard suites being either licensed or registered with allowances for neighbours to give their say of approval or otherwise. Secondary suites have been long debated in the city, appearing before council dozens of time with little headway. More than 53 per cent of home in Calgary are currently zoned RC1 or R1 prohibiting secondary suites.

“As I’ve been saying for nearly five years, we’ve been having a lot of trouble making the touchdown pass, we’re just moving the ball a little bit down the field each time and this would be a further move down the field and that’s better than nothing,” said Mayor Naheed Nenshi of the motion.

Secondary suites are back in council June 29.

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