Located at the confluence of Nose Hill Drive and Crowchild Trail in Calgary’s northwest, the community of Ranchlands – developed in the 1970s – retains some of the unique, natural features of its namesake ranching lands.
In the centre of the community, Ranchlands Park sprawls across 12 hectares and provides examples of some of the last remnants of the typical northwest geological formations known as knobs and kettles. Retreating glacial deposits of ice carved these small rounded hilltops (knobs) and depressions (kettles). Much of Calgary’s northwest featured these fields of undulating hills before development reshaped the landscape.
Nature is a resounding theme within Ranchlands. Seana Abel grew up in the community after moving there with her family in 1982 when she was 14 years old.
“At the time, there was a frenzy of people putting in trees and landscaping, but we could explore the hills above us and I remember seeing a porcupine and deer where part of Hawkwood is now,” said Abel.
Abel loved the area so much that when she married, she and her husband Stephen purchased a townhome there.
“We chose to stay because there were two schools, shopping was within walking distance and it was affordable,” said Abel.
As their family grew, the Abels required more space and briefly moved to a larger home in Hidden Valley, but they found that the amenities and the schools they wanted just weren’t in place.
“So in 1999, we purchased my mom’s house in Ranchlands, which also had a great floor plan and a big backyard,” said Abel, whose five kids now range between 15 and 25.
“We’ve made such good friends here. The community is amazing. My oldest still has close friends that he has known since attending preschool in Ranchlands.”
Gareth Jones, who has lived in the community for 10 years, agrees that the connected sense of community is a large contributor to the area’s appeal. He raised his two daughters in the neighbourhood.
“I am really struck by the feeling of community that exists in Ranchlands,” he said. “The community involvement here is really special.”
“I am really struck by the feeling of community that exists in Ranchlands.” – Gareth Jones, Ranchlands resident
Another compelling plus for the area is its location and amenities. Shopping is on the doorstep at Crowfoot Centre, situated on the north side of Nose Hill Drive. And with Crowchild Trail and Stoney Trail literally right outside the door, getting anywhere in the city is simple. The community also sits in a sweet spot for transit, hovering halfway between the Dalhousie and Crowfoot CTrain stations.
“I teach at the university and my commute is just so convenient and my girls had very easy access to transit,” said Jones.
Almost 8,000 people live in Ranchlands, with the majority of the population falling between the ages of 20 and 64. Most residents seem to stay put, raising their families and then remaining through retirement. Kim Kelly moved into the community in 1994, raising three children who attended local schools.
“We moved here because of the schools – all three levels of schools are within a few kilometres of our home, which is great,” she said, noting that when her kids started at Ranchlands School, it was bursting at the seams and two portables were added to accommodate the increased numbers of children.
Kelly, who sits on the board of the community association, also enjoys the community interaction and spirit in the neighbourhood.
“I think a community where people know each other, where they can walk down the street and say ‘hi’ and wave – it just makes it a more safe and friendly place to live,” she said.
She also notes that Ranchlands is very diverse. “There is a variety of ethnicities and ages, and the houses are not all cookie cutter,” she said. “It’s eclectic and I love that.”
Plus, the community association is really upping the ante when it comes to community programming and amenities.
Adding to the selection of parks, baseball diamonds, and walking paths, the community recently poured $100,000 into a new hockey rink. Future upgrades are in the works, thanks to the City’s This is My Neighbourhood project, which provides an opportunity for residents to partner with the City to identify ways to make their neighbourhood an even better place to live, work and play.
“Right now, we are in the information-gathering stage,” said Kelly. “But we’ve talked about benches, upgrades to walking paths, traffic calming – these kinds of things will make a great addition to the community and we are excited.”