I really do need to get out more. Specifically, to the edges of the city, to see what is happening in Calgary’s new frontier. Recently, I was reminded of this when driving some buddies (inner-city boys) out for a round at Canals of Delacour golf course, which meant we had to drive past the airport. Who does that?
Our immediate reaction as we passed the airport was to marvel at all of the development happening east of the airport. After a bit of chatter, one buddy said “Who would want to live out here?” My response, “That is exactly what people said when Lakeview, Lake Bonavista and Dalhousie were built at the edge of the city 40+ years ago.”
He smiled and sheepishly admitted that when he moved to Charleswood in the early ‘60s, it too was treeless, there was no University of Calgary, no Brentwood Mall or LRT station and indeed, people asked him “Why do you want to live so far out?” The other buddy agreed that it was the same for him when he moved to Calgary 40+ years ago and chose to live in Beddington before moving to the inner-city.
When I pointed out people living in these new northeast communities have easy access to Stoney Trail, the airport, CrossIron Mills (shopping and cinema), Lowe’s Home Improvement and the New Horizon shopping centre opening this summer – and of course, Costco.
I then hit them with buddy’s motto “If Costco doesn’t have it, I don’t need it,” which resulted in agreement all around. I also reminded them that with the popularity of online shopping for groceries, clothing, electronics and other everyday needs, having stores nearby isn’t as important as it once was.
Both admitted living out here might not be that bad after all and that getting a bigger home by living further from downtown was one of the reasons they chose to live on the edge of the city when they moved to Calgary and had young families. One even said, “who needs to live near downtown. I never go there anyway.” Ouch!
Not your parent’s suburbs
However, what is different about these new suburbs, compared with those 40 or 50 years ago is they are not a sea of single-family homes on huge lots, but a diversity of housing options including, single-family homes, duplexes, row houses and mid-rise condos (4 to 6 storeys high).
Two days later, when heading out to play another round at Canal at Delacour, (yes, I love the course) I decided to leave early to explore these new communities and see for myself what was happening.
I was gobsmacked by Truman’s Orchard Sky project with its cluster of seven condo buildings totalling 423 new homes within walking distance of a school, park and pathway in the new community called Skyview Ranch. I also saw what looked to be a large, 6 storey wood frame residential building nearby, as well as other four-story residential buildings along the main corridor. While it might not be the Beltline or East Village, it is certainly not the low-density suburbs of the mid to late 20th century.
It can all get a bit confusing when you read the marketing information and learn there is a new community in the northeast called Savanna that is actually in the community of Saddle Ridge. Or, when there is both a Cornerstone and Cornerbrook community in the northeast. I think one might be within the boundaries of the other, but it wasn’t clear. As if the naming of the streets wasn’t confusing enough with all of the street names looking the same, now the community names also overlap.
It is not only at the northeast edge that Calgary’s condo invasion is happening. It is also in the southwest, southeast, west side and directly north up Centre Street. A quick check with the City of Calgary and there are currently 23 condo construction sites in new communities creating 2,693 new homes for Calgarians.
Condo living is not only just starter home for young Calgarians in the suburbs. It is a lifestyle option for people of all ages and backgrounds in in the 21st century.
Note: An edited version of this blog was published in the July 2018 edition of Condo Living Magazine.