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Public input sought to transform north Calgary’s parks and public spaces

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Public input sought to transform north Calgary’s parks and public spaces
Vivo for Healthier Generations is partnering with Parks Foundation Calgary on a large-scale community project to transform north Calgary's parks and public spaces. Carolyn Kury de Castillo has the details. – Oct 15, 2022

Vivo for Healthier Generations is partnering with Parks Foundation Calgary with the aim of transforming north Calgary’s parks and public spaces.

On Saturday, Vivo hosted a kick-off event for Place Matters: A North Calgary Project in partnership with the Parks Foundation.

Over the next nine months, Vivo and the Parks Foundation will get community input to gain an understanding of what residents feel would help develop thriving neighbourhoods. The two groups want to learn what people who live in north-central Calgary want when it comes to outdoor recreation spaces.

Parks Foundation Calgary is looking at communities that are underserved and how they can be transformed into places to enjoy nature.

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“There are many communities in Calgary that don’t have beautiful park spaces and amenities that community members can use,” said Sarah Salus, director of fund development and programs at Parks Foundation Calgary.

“We know that they are really important for community living. They improve quality of life for residents.”

The idea behind the project is to take underutilized areas and turn them into places people want to use.

“There is lots of potential. Especially in this area in north central Calgary where there are spaces that have the potential to be redeveloped into something that can be activated for communities,” Salus said.

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It’s extremely important to have these “activated” green spaces, she added.

“They are places that bring communities together. People feel a sense of belonging and pride when they have a nice green space in their neighborhood — a place where they can be active or meet their friends. They are outdoor places that feel safe year-round and they really enhance the community,” Salus said.

One theme that already popped up on the the public input boards at Saturday’s event is the desire for more trees and more places for dogs.

“We have a lot of different parks and everything here but there’s no dog park here,” said Evanston resident Gustavo Vaz.

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Jasmine Mian, Calgary’s Ward 3 councillor, said the engagement process is funded by the Council Innovation Fund.

“From there we would take the list of amenities and things the community would like to see and that would allow me as an advocate for the area to go forward and say, ‘this is really important for my community and this is what we would like to see,’ and fight for those dollars,” said Mian.

“I think we have green spaces but they are not always engaged or activated in ways that benefits the community and that’s why we’re out here today to talk to people in the community.”

Work is now underway to create an indoor park at the Vivo Centre. The $62 million expansion will include a lakeside-inspired aquatic and fitness centre. The revamped design is also a result of community consultation.

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“A lot of things that came up were around that social connection and connection to nature, so rather than us build what we have been building in our industry for the last number of years, we thought how can it be for all seasons, all generations?” said Cynthia Watson, CEO of Vivo for Healthier Generations.

Watson said the Vivo Centre expansion will be completed by the spring of 2023. The community input on parks spaces will take place over the next nine months.

The original, city-owned centre was opened in 2004 and named Cardel Place.

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