Ten Years Together – City Building
Part of building a great city means literally building the city – creating and sustaining the kinds of facilities that make life better every day.
Growing up in Calgary, I always knew that this place was special. I’ve lived and worked all over the world, and there’s no place in the world that I’d rather be.
Over the past decade, we’ve made city building a major priority. From five new rec centres across the city to new and renovated parks, from renovated libraries to Studio Bell, Telus Spark, Contemporary Calgary and the magnificent Central Library, it’s been a decade of building the things that bring us together – always by putting citizens’ needs at the centre of what we do.
Here’s what a couple of Calgarians in the know think:
Ellen Percival founded Calgary’s Child Magazine 26 years ago. She says that when they started out, this was something that filled a gap in Calgary.
“There were so many wonderful service providers in the city and so many families that needed them, but there wasn’t a vehicle that joined them all together. We quickly learned, with our young children that this was badly needed,” she said. “We’ve got about 150,000 readers that see our print edition in and around Calgary, and we expanded online about a decade ago.”
She says that while the magazine has helped point families towards the services and amenities, it’s the fact that The City of Calgary has made building a city for families a priority that allows helps her curate such great content.
“Compared to other municipalities, Calgary is tops in recreation, in parks, the green spaces. There are more than 1,100 playgrounds,” she adds. “The City is so dedicated to keeping families well, and happy, and active, and together. It shows in their mandate, they’ve proven it time and time again.”
She says it goes beyond just the outdoor and park spaces, though, and praises the many civic partners that give Calgarians places to go and ways to interact.
“The Zoo, Heritage Park, Telus Spark, because of the partnership The City has struck and their commitment to families and to those that want to help support families, regardless of whose name is on the door, you can be certain that the City of Calgary has a hand in making that possible.”
She says that the past 10 years have proven that Calgary is building a city for everyone.
“It’s clear at The City, in the last decade, nobody is standing still. They continue to evolve, and improve, and grow, so that we can too.”
But what about the people that are actually experiencing this? Cody Stuart, a father to twin boys, says that the things that have been built here in Calgary have allowed him to be the kind of parent he always hoped to be.
“My wife and I, before we had kids, said we wanted kids to be the reason we did more stuff, not less stuff,” he explains. “We were pretty active before we had kids, but definitely more so now that we have them.”
He found that having activities, even in the cold, allowed him to get back into activities that he’d left behind in childhood.
“I hadn’t skated in (decades),” he said. “But there’s rinks all over the city, we try to hit as many as we can. We go to Bowness, you can skate for kilometers there. It’s a super nice, amazing spot. Probably the nicest spot in the city in the winter.”
But even when it’s too cold for outdoor activities, he notes that The City has provided year round options that don’t come at a cost.
“When it was too cold out, we spend a lot of time at the library. We went there five or six days a week.”
His story is focused on the way he sees the city with his kids, but what about for the tourists and Calgarians who just want to experience what the city has to offer?
“Going across the Peace Bridge and seeing the bands playing and kids going to get their grad photos,” he says, lost in thought. “It reminds me of something out of another city. It’s something I would expect to see out of New York, it’s so impressive to see here.”
And what does he hope to see in the future?
“There’s some that say, times are tough, don’t build these public spaces.
“But you build great cities by having great public spaces. Anything that can bring people in and allow them to enjoy this place. There’s been a lot of great work done in the last decade. I just hope for more of that.”
From parks to rec centres, museums to arts facilities, pathways to rinks, we are blessed to have what we do. Knowing that Calgarians are seeing the benefit of a city built for everyone, a city with a vision, a city for individuals and families alike – that’s why we do this. The last 10 years have seen incredible progress. I share Cody and Ellen’s hope for the future.
Categories: City building