Even with Calgary’s fairly mild winters, many dread the snow and the cold, choosing to squirrel away indoors. But what if we did not shy away from winter? What if we celebrated the season and embraced our cold climate?
There are many ways to live healthy, active, and social lives in winter that do not require leaving the city for the mountains or hitting the indoor gym. Here are a few ideas that Calgary and other winter cities are exploring:
• Build warming huts along our pathway network. These tiny pop-up pavilions encourage pathway use in the winter by providing a space to mingle with fellow Calgarians and get toasty. In Winnipeg, huts are also fanciful art installations created through an annual design competition.
• Promote ice skating across the city. The City of Calgary operates large outdoor rinks at Olympic Plaza and Prince’s Island, with several community associations maintaining smaller local rinks. Talk with your community association about building one. In Edmonton, the Freeze Way is a pathway-like skating route that encourages people of all ages to strap on their skates for a lantern lit skate through City parks.
• Encourage skiing in the city. In Edmonton, transit users are encouraged to “ski to LRT” with free secure cross country ski storage at LRT stations. In Calgary, the Foothills Nordic ski club is piloting improved cross-country skiing trails at the Confederation Park Golf Course.
• Develop a four-season patio culture. Many cities have busy patios well below freezing through the use of heaters, blankets, and protective awnings. This sparks social interactions and boosts the local restaurant scene. In our city, hardy Calgarians line up down the street to get into the Container Bar patio on Kensington Road, even in the dead of winter.
• Shop local! Montreal sets up colourful Adirondack chairs around communal fire pits along their retail streets to foster casual conversations and encourage shopping at local businesses. The Mount Pleasant Community used to run a weekly get together and story-telling around a fire pit – the cut off was minus 15.
• Organize local walks, events, and festivals throughout all four seasons, not just the summer.
• Make transit work in all seasons by providing heated bus shelters at key locations, with priority snow clearing on connecting sidewalks.
• Plan for a winter climate. Edmonton’s new Winter City Strategy encourages the design of buildings and public spaces to include shelter from the elements and allow for more sunlight to shine on sidewalks.
Some of these ideas require effort from the City, but others can be pioneered by Calgarians. Together, we can build a city that is vibrant and active throughout the year. Bundle up, get outside, and embrace winter!
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This content represents the personal views and opinions of the Ward Councillor and should not be taken as a statement of policy of The City of Calgary. The inclusion of any external content does not imply endorsement by The City of Calgary.