When it comes to location and convenient access to major thoroughfares, you can’t beat Calgary’s northwest neighbourhood of Dalhousie.
Bounded on four sides by major roads – John Laurie Boulevard, Shaganappi Trail, Crowchild Trail and Sarcee Trail – Dalhousie is at the heart of it all. Getting to and from downtown, or out to the mountains, is a breeze.
“Definitely the proximity to downtown attracted us,” said Sean French, president of the Dalhousie Community Association, who moved to Dalhousie 10 years ago from nearby Varsity.
“It’s literally a half-hour drive to the core and public transportation in the area is also excellent. The CTrain is just at Dalhousie Station and it’s a quick walk from most areas in Dalhousie.”
The community’s mature trees and ample park space also attracted French.
“Parts of Dalhousie have a pathway system along the rear of the homes taking the place of a back laneway,” he said. “It’s really nice for the peaceful enjoyment of the neighbourhood and for connecting with the neighbours.”
Another factor that adds to the appeal of the neighbourhood is its sense of community spirit and strong resident involvement.
Currently, the community association building is undergoing a $500,000 renovation to upgrade the kitchen and bathrooms. The building is also home to an after-school program and a kindergarten program.
Certainly, Dalhousie resident Barrie Olsen, who is also a past president of the community association, would attest to the warmth and connectedness of the neighbourhood.
“We really lucked out with the community,” Olsen said, as he recalled searching for a home when he and his wife moved to Calgary from the West Coast 14 years ago. “I really wanted a home with a big yard and mature trees. I didn’t want a new neighbourhood.”
The Olsens purchased a fixer-upper on a 50’ x 180’ lot. They now own three homes in the area and rent out two of them. Olsen, a former teacher turned contractor, renovated them all. His current project is the home that he shares with his wife and children – a five-level split design that he tore down to the studs before making an addition to the back, transforming the home’s look and functionality.
Community connectedness was important to the Olsens, as was proximity to schools.
“It is one of the only communities that I know of that still has all of its elementary school open,” said Olsen. The area features three elementary schools, including one for Spanish immersion and an arts-focused separate school, as well as a junior high school. “My kids can ride their bikes to get to school – it’s perfect,” said Olsen.
Although Olsen has younger children, that isn’t common for the area.
In 2014, 16 per cent of Dalhousie’s almost 9,200 residents were 65 or older. “Almost two-thirds of the owners in my cul-de-sac are original owners who purchased in the late 1960s and early 1970s,” said Olsen.
Olsen adds that the odd infill occasionally replaces the 1960s architecture, “but for the most part, we have an aging community. People are choosing to age in place here and the homes are too expensive for young families to purchase.”
However, the neighbourhood might soon possess a younger vibe, as two new proposed high-density towers are slated to add 1,000 multi-family dwellings to the mix as part of a transit-oriented development by Birchwood Properties located near the Dalhousie CTrain station.
In addition, Quarry Bay Investments Inc. and Calgary Co-op are in the process of developing a mixed-use urban village at the location of the current Dalhousie Co-op, including a brand-new store and a series of multi-family housing units, which French says will add another 400 doors to the community.