By Richard White, Community Strategist, Ground3 Landscape Architects, March 24, 2013
Top 10 reasons why Calgary is the City of Parks & Pathways:
- Calgary has two of the largest urban parks in world - Nose Hill Park and Fish Creek Park.
- Shaw Millennium Park is one of the biggest and best free outdoor skate parks in the world.
- The Douglas Fir Trail along the south banks of the Bow River is the furthest east that these trees grow.
- Calgary has over 700 km of walking and cycling pathways linking over 100 different communities across the city.
- Downtown 's +15 system is the world's largest elevated walkway system with over 60 bridges connecting over 100 office, hotel, retail and entertainment buildings. The system is 18 km long.
- Prince's Island is the city's festival park and home to the Calgary International Folk Festival. The Island has been called one of the best urban festival sites by international media and performers.
- Stampede Park is home to Calgary's signature festival the Calgary Stampede "The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth."
- Calgary has some of the most spectacular dog parks in the world. Many with commanding views of the Downtown skyline or the river valleys.
- RiverWalk our newest pathway has become the unofficial home of our Food Truck culture and will soon be the gateway to the revitalized St. Patrick's Island Park.
- The Calgary Greenway currently under construction will circle the city creating a 138 km walking and cycling path that will link over 40 communities with 300,000+ people.
Calgary's parks and pathways can be enjoyed year-round as many of the paths are cleared and warm Chinook winds can result in +10C temperatures even in winter. The City becomes magical when there is a hoar frost on the trees turning them into a surreal fantasy landscape.
Downtown Calgary is home to one of the largest collection of corporate head offices in North America. One adaptation to winter is to create skybridges to connect offices, hotels, retail, cultural and convention centre buildings. Currently there are 63 bridges, connecting over 100 buildings, creating a maze that is over 20 km long. It is on par with Montreal's famous underground system. It is called the +15 system, as the skybridges are 15 feet off the ground, connecting buildings at the second floor level.
The original +15 bridges were simple rectangles without much thought given to the design; however they are gradually being retrofitted to become more visually appealing. One of the advantages of an elevated bridge walkway vs. underground is that pedestrians get to enjoy the sunlight and vistas the elevated glass bridges provide.
One of the more recent park projects was to create the Ralph Klein Park which includes the world's largest engineered wetland (30 acres) as part of a major sewage treatment plant at the southern edge of the city. Calgary's boasts being one of the greenest cities in the world with respect to water treatment.
One of gems of Calgary's park system is Prince's Island, one of three islands in the Bow River, on the edge of the Downtown core. It is home every July to the Calgary Folk Festival, which has been called by many performers as a magical place to perform. There is a festival on the island every second weekend in the summer.
In the middle of the southside of the City is the Glenmore Reservoir and Weaslehead Flats created by a dam on Calgary's other river - the Elbow River. While no power boats are allowed, it is poplar sailing, canoeing and rowing amenity.
Calgary has many outdoor skating rinks across the city from Olympic Plaza to Prince's Island. Perhaps the most popular one is at Bowness Park.
This is just a glimpse at the over 5,300 parks and soon to be 1,000 km of pathways taht exist in Calgary: The City of Parks & Pathways!