Calgary’s southwest community of Killarney is home to not one, but two “HOT” yoga studios – Calgary Hot Yoga (one of the first hot yoga studios in Calgary) and Hot Yoga on 17th.
Or, if your Buddha belly is looking for some sustenance and a bit more of a European flair you can walk to Cassia Bistro. To quote John Gilchrist, Calgary’s esteemed food guru, "Restaurateurs Gilles and Andrea Brassart and Dominique Moussu have created a bistro in the new Casel Marche that is as French as anything I’ve tasted on this side of the Atlantic. It’s lively, loud, casual and rocks with an engaging blend of French technique and Canadian ingredients." Cassis Bistro, Casel Marche and J. Webb Wine Merchants all located on the corner of 17th Avenue and 24th Street SW have together created Calgary’s best French Corners. I believe this is foreshadowing of good things to come as the area evolves into a more diverse walkable urban village.
This development just adds to Killarney cornucopia of restaurants including Spiros Pizza, Little Lebanon, Bow Bulgogi House (Korean) and Creteus (Greek). The urbanity doesn’t stop with restaurants either. Killarney is home to Heritage Bakery (think perogies), Mountain Bike City and Beat It Music (look for the drum set on the sidewalk). For true urban trekkers there is what we refer to as the BMM (Bibles for Mission Mall) on 26th Avenue at 33rd Street that is home not only to one of Calgary’s best thrift stores (my favourite place to shop for used books), but also to Café Francesco for a taste of Italy. Killarney’s other independent café is Coffee Cats Café on 17th Ave. On Killarney’s south side is the Richmond Shopping Centre (29th Street and 31st Avenue) with its eclectic collection of shops - CURVES fitness centre, Highlander Wine & Spirits, an old fashion Shoe Repair shop, a great Vietnamese Sub shop, a Women In Need thrift store and Western Canadian Canine Academy.
Killarney is one of Calgary’s thriving “infill” communities, i.e. what planners like to call an established or inner city community because it is older than 50 years and close to the Downtown. Like most of Calgary’s inner city communities, it is experiencing a lot of “ infilling,” a sign of a healthy community as it means the next generation of Calgarians find it very desirable and so they move in and invest heavily in upgrading the housing stock. The 1200 square feet bungalows from the ‘50s are quickly becoming 2,000 square feet side-by-sides (they use to be called duplexes) or 2,500 square foot mini-mansions. Land is also being assembled for low-rise condos that make great homes for Yuppies or Ruppies (retired urban professionals). Look in the future for more mid-rise condos (10+ story) at key sites destined to add another dimension to the community. With more people and more affluence will come more amenities including cafes, restaurants, pubs and boutiques.
With a walkscore of 61, Killarney is Calgary’s 56th most walkable community. I expect the walkscore is lower than it should be, in part because the scoring system undervalues some of the great recreational amenities in the area. For example, Killarnians can walk to the Shaganappi Golf Course and Driving Range and the Killarney Pool/Recreation Centre. (Hot Tip: the recreation centre has a great deal on drop-in passes that allow you to do everything from yoga to dance, from martial arts to access to the state-of-the-art weight room, for less than $10/visit).
Killarney is also home to two elementary schools, a good thing as 44% of community’s residents are between the ages of 25 and 44 and you know what that means. Parks and playgrounds around almost every corner make this a family-friendly community. There is also an athletic park south of 33rd Avenue at 25th Street, with ball diamonds, tennis courts and a great toboggan hill.
From Killarney you can walk, run or bike to the Bow River where you have access to Lowery Gardens (named after John Lowery who once had a market garden in the City’s earliest days) and the Douglas Fir Trail, the most easterly place in North America where the majestic Douglas Fir tree grow.
Killarneians also have easy access to five major employment centers - Downtown, Mount Royal University, University of Calgary, Foothills Medical Centre and SAIT. You can easily bike and/or drive to all of these in less than 15 minutes.
Killarney is only going to get hotter now with the LRT’s West Leg up and running. And just wait until the new urban village gets underway at Westbrook Station (new library, new retail and new high-rise condos and offices). The entire Westbrook Mall will eventually become part of the TOD (Transit Oriented Development) hub. When that happens, Killarney will be hotter than Adam Scott’s putter at the Masters!