Calgary’s park communities bringing a little nature to your own backyard
When searching for the ideal home, a few key area selling features come to mind, notably access to major roadways, proximity to schools and potential for greenspace.
That’s no problem for Calgary and its communities, which boast more than 10,000 hectares of parkland and almost 800 kilometres of pathways.
“Nature in cities plays a vital role in keeping everyone outdoors, active and mentally refreshed. The birds, wildlife, rivers and vegetation are both ours to enjoy and ours to conserve,” said City of Calgary Parks director Anne Charlton. “Calgarians love their parks and our life in Calgary is so much better for them.”
The Rotary/Mattamy Greenway is one of the most ambitious local park initiatives to date, adding 138 kilometres to Calgary’s existing pathway system. When complete, the three-phase project will link 55 communities and almost 400,000 residents to winding pathways, wetlands, prairie grasslands, lookouts, rest stops, playgrounds, family fitness areas and off-leash dog parks.
“The Rotary/Mattamy Greenway is capturing the imagination and hearts of Calgarians,” said Parks Foundation Calgary CEO Myrna Dubé.
The greenway’s second phase wrapped up in May, with the $65-million project expected to be complete in 2016.
Nose Hill Park
At more than 11 square kilometres, Nose Hill is Calgary’s largest municipal park. Surrounded by 12 communities including Wards 4 and 7, Nose Hill is busy in all seasons with hikers, bikers, dog walkers, snowshoers and more.
Bordering the park, some of the most populated communities include Dalhousie (9,186 residents), Brentwood (6,206), Edgemont (16,052) and Beddington Heights (11,867).
While the floods in June 2013 affected a number of parks around the city – many of them are already back and open for business. A portion of the 21-hectare park, including the pool, was closed for renovations when the flood hit and was damaged further. On July 15, the park reopened to the public.
“We were really looking forward to getting the crowds back [after the renovations],” said Mike Gavan, executive director of the Calgary Outdoor Swimming Pool Association. “It was supposed to be a new beginning. but the flood washed it all away.”
Repairs to the pool included new fixtures, lockers, flooring and doors. The concession was also rebuilt with flood-resilient materials and new mechanical equipment.
Bowness Park, meanwhile, isn’t expected to open until this fall as it continues repairs from last year`s food damage.
One of Calgary’s oldest greenspaces, the park was expected to reopen at an earlier date but was delayed due to a cold winter and rainy spring. Redevelopment highlights include restoring the river’s edge, reallocating parking, new water control structures at the lagoon and interpretative signage and historic elements to celebrate park history.
Central Memorial Park
In 1899, the federal government set aside land for a Calgary park in what is now the Beltline, making Central Memorial Park the oldest in the city.
By 1912, the park had added Alberta’s first public library, war memorials and bandstand and decorative plantings.
Fast-forward to 2009 and the park underwent an $11.5-million redevelopment to many of the area’s monuments and refreshing amenities including a garden-side café, pathways, illuminated fountains and outdoor reading rooms with wireless Internet. The park reopened in 2010.
Fish Creek Provincial Park
At more than 13 square kilometers, Fish Creek Provincial Park is one of Calgary’s largest parks, not to mention one of the largest urban parks in Canada.
The park is home to the Bow Valley Ranch Visitor Centre, Bow Valley Ranche Restaurant, Annie’s Bakery and Artisan Gardens. It annually draws cyclists and nature lovers year-round for riding, walking, hiking, bird-watching and more.