The Established Communities Open Space Upgrades project is a three-year initiative (2012 – 2014) to improve existing green spaces within Calgary’s older, established communities. Many of the parks in these communities were built more than 40 years ago and now require minor lifecycle work. In 2011, Council approved multi-year funding to improve these sites, which were identified through public engagement.
Due to the 2013 flood, several sites planned to undergo construction in 2013 were delayed as resources were directed towards critical flood repairs. Construction will begin this spring to complete sites that were delayed from the flood. These sites will be prioritized for completion before moving on to the final 2014 site upgrades.
Your patience and understanding is appreciated as we work to complete the important upgrades for these sites. Once complete, all sites identified in Established Communities project will result in improved green spaces to be enjoyed by all park visitors and the communities they service.
Efforts will be made to minimize disruption and maximize efficiency during construction; however, this work is weather-influenced and subject to change. Construction for all sites is targeted for completion by fall 2014 or spring 2015.
Concept plans have been discussed with Community Association representatives. Our employees are ensuring that communities are aware of improvements to be made to these green spaces.
Questions about these upgrades should be directed to 3-1-1.
Green spaces, parks, and safe cared-for-communities, are places people want to live in – and stay in. Recognizing that open space plays an important role in the vitality and viability of older communities, a review of open spaces in established communities that are 40 years and older was conducted and a final report was produced in 2006.
At that time, a master list of established communities’ sites was developed along with recommendations for park improvements. These recommendations were based on an extensive survey of how residents used their green spaces and what improvements they felt were required. Improvements for some of the high priority sites were undertaken in 2006-2007.
In 2011, Council approved funding for additional open space upgrade projects. These projects will occur over the next three years with funding used for a variety of improvements, ranging from small upgrades to larger plans that will be carried out with community support.
- New benches, garbage bins and picnic tables
- Planting of additional trees, shrubs or other landscaping
- New or enhanced pathways and trails
- Renewal of historic design elements on culturally significant sites
- Removal, replacement or installation of fencing
- Upgrade of existing sport infrastructure such as tennis courts, ball fields, soccer fields and playgrounds
- Removal of dead or dying trees and stumps and general clean-up of green spaces
These projects will continue the work started in 2006 and are stepping stones to the creation of quality public parks and green spaces for all communities in the City of Calgary.
Why is it important to Upgrade Open Spaces in Established Communities?
Established communities are largely inner-city communities that are at least 40 years old and surround Calgary’s Downtown Core. Calgary’s established communities grew before the city developed guidelines requiring a certain amount of green space per capita.
It is important to upgrade open space in established communities because we now recognize the many benefits that parks and green spaces contribute to our communities, such as:
- Aesthetic value
- Increased economic value of property
- Safe places to play and safe access to community facilities
- Places for neighbours to connect
- Increased community and civic pride.
These Upgrade Projects will revive the quality of existing green spaces in the city’s older communities and help bring these spaces up to current Parks standards.
What criteria did the original Open Space Strategy use for their recommendations?
The original Open Space Strategy for Established Communities in 2006 looked at the amount of green space per capita, the 2006 survey results, community desires and available funding. Other criteria included:
The City of Calgary’s communities are unique and often have distinctive characteristics and needs. Some communities have natural boundaries that affect the pattern of use by residents. In other cases, residents in adjoining communities share open spaces with no barriers to access.
Quality vs quantity
Because of development that has occurred in these areas over time, it is difficult to increase the quantity of green space in these older communities. However, improvements can be made to the quality of existing open spaces, and by doing so, increase the quality of life experienced by the residents who live there. In some communities this can be done by simply improving access to these green spaces that already exist within the community.
As demographics in communities change and evolve, it means changes to how people enjoy green spaces. Older neighbourhoods that were once populated by seniors are now inhabited by young, growing families who need places for play and recreation. Alternatively, as some communities and their residents mature, outdated and underused active spaces can be replaced with more appropriate passive enjoyment that better meets the needs of the users.
Access and distribution
Safety and easy access to schools, community centres, parks, green space, open space and pathways is an important factor to residents who live in these areas. In addition, deficiencies or gaps in distribution were identified within each community.
How was the current list of projects developed?
The current list of projects was based on the original master list developed in 2006. However it has been updated to meet current community needs and desires that can be undertaken with the funding that is available. The number and size of projects varies from one community to the next.
Parks staff re-evaluated the original master list to come up with an updated list of projects, considering the following:
- Work that was completed in the first phase (2006-2007)
- Additional projects completed over the past few years by both Parks and Community Associations
- New and changing needs in these communities - for example, ball diamonds that are no longer used may be removed to make room for new spaces that can be better used by the community
- Feedback from the community associations and residents
- Upgrades required to existing infrastructure to bring them up to current Park standards
- Need to address specific safety or public concerns
- General clean-up of areas, aimed at improving aesthetics and visibility
- Completion of outstanding work that was started in the first phase
- Assistance from consultants who visited sites to observe and analyze their current use.