South Health Campus anchors diverse southeast-Calgary communities
Right now, it takes Michael John Suva 30 to 45 minutes on public transit to commute from his home in Shawnessy to his job as a nursing attendant at Calgary’s South Health Campus (SHC), the city’s newest hospital, located in the deep southeast.
“It’s not close enough,” said Suva.
To improve his commute, Suva recently purchased a condo in Auburn Bay – one of the communities, along with Cranston and Seton, that sit next to the SHC – that he’ll move into next spring. Suva was primarily attracted to Auburn Bay by the 15-minute walk to work his new home will offer. In fact, Suva’s girlfriend, another SHC employee, also moved to Auburn Bay a few years ago for the same reason.
“It’s close to my work, grocery stores, restaurants and other stuff,” he said of his new home. “My condo doesn’t face the hospital, so I won’t see my work every day, even though I’ll be so close.”
He expects to rarely require the use of his car, or public transit, when he moves into Auburn Bay, which would allow him to save a significant amount of money that will no longer be going towards gas, a hospital parking spot or a bus pass.
“Because the SHC is such a draw for jobs, we want people to be able to live close to where they work. They may not even need a car.” – Breanne Harder, City of Calgary planner
“I like being able to stay in my own community,” he said.
This is good news to Breanne Harder, a City of Calgary planner. She says the area around the SHC, which employs more than 2,500 people, is designed to allow citizens to live, work and play in one spot.
For example, unlike other Calgary hospitals, the South Health Campus has a wellness centre on its premises that features a fully equipped YMCA fitness facility that can be accessed by any members of the public.
Harder references the Southeast Planning Area Regional Policy Plan, which Calgary City Council adopted in 2004, as the guiding vision for the area’s five residential communities and town centre. As the plan states, “The centre accommodates an ofﬁce park, a major healthcare facility, a commercial hub, a high school and recreational facilities and is supported by higher density residential development. This range of uses provides people with the opportunity to work in closer proximity to where they live and, in turn, reduces commuter trips and alleviates congestion city-wide.”
“Because the SHC is such a draw for jobs, we want people to be able to live close to where they work,” said Harder. “They may not even need a car.”
However, she says the area is still well connected to the rest of the city, with easy access to Stoney Trail, Highway 22X and Deerfoot Trail. Harder adds that the City’s new Green Line LRT will eventually make its way to the SHC, making the area even more accessible.
Harder says developers are encouraged to offer a variety of housing options in the communities surrounding the hospital to accommodate the differing needs and incomes of the spectrum of people who work there.
Brookfield Residential – the developer behind Auburn Bay, Cranston and Seton – shares the City’s vision for the area’s development.
“Given Seton’s mix of commercial, retail and multi-family development – as well as future single-family homes – we envision Seton as a place that offers everything you need to live, work and play,” said Ryan Boyd, Brookfield Residential’s senior vice-president of Calgary communities.
Boyd highlights the fact that Seton is a “different kind of community” because of its complete healthy-living concept, a notion that took shape when Alberta Health Services committed to building the SHC.
“Brookfield Residential championed the idea of a complete, walkable community with an accessible town centre, offering commercial, employment and recreational opportunities,” he said.
When it comes to Cranston, Boyd highlights its “vibrant residents association and its unique Riverstone community with tons of opportunities to be in nature – paddling, walking, cycling or fishing.”
Boyd defines Auburn Bay by “its amazing recreation opportunities on the lake and the club-like feel of its residents association facilities. It also features its own commercial amenities, including the showcase Calgary Co-op.”
In the end, despite their unique characteristics, the thing that ties all these vibrant communities together is the hospital.
“There are many individuals and families living around the SHC who depend on it for both employment and medical care,” said Boyd. “We really view the SHC as a partner and important stakeholder.”