Early morning walks through lush green pathways amid the calming twitter of songbirds. Afternoon bike rides on winding trails with the wind at your back, tobogganing down the community’s own bunny hill on mild winter days. It is the dream suburban lifestyle.
There are those who prefer the excitement of living downtown, but the lasting appeal of the communities outside the core is the freedom to enjoy open spaces in the neighbourhood to bike, to walk the dog, and to be one with nature. After all, wouldn’t you rather be surrounded by nature than strangers right now?
The communal areas of communities – parks, tot lots, pathways, ponds – play an increasingly important role in decision making for homebuyers and land developers have come up with some innovative designs for their greenspaces that engages everyone.
These newer communities have upped their game in offering distinctive greenspaces that emphasize their close-to-nature location or coming up with new designs that add to the enjoyment of the community. We take a look at three of the city’s most seasoned developers and the greenspaces they have put in place in their latest communities.
With a history that can be traced back to the 1930s, Anthem United has always made it a point to maximize the enjoyment of its greenspaces in all of the communities that it has built. Indeed, Anthem United’s Land Development Manager, Steve LePan, says greenspaces are more than just an amenity, they’re a necessity
“Most people choose their lot based on its access to parks – whether they are looking for a view over a pond or a front door just steps from a tot lot or access across a field to a school, green space factors into every home buyers decision making,” LePan says. “Which is why we are always looking to maximize outdoor enjoyment for our residents.”
Each Anthem United community begins with a minimum of 10 per cent of area dedicated to the Municipal Reserve. “This is your parks, playgrounds, and pathways. There are also school sites with large playfields, environmental reserves and storm water retention ponds that contribute to the outdoor aesthetic. The percentage of a subdivision that is green, blue or tree-lined is often much more than 20 per cent of the community area,” he explains.
Anthem United says it considers outdoor space from the moment it embarks on an outline plan and each community offers unique opportunities and features. For example, its growing community of D’ARCY in Okotoks takes into consideration its unique geography. “D’ARCY takes full advantage of mountain and golf course views and connects residents to Town-wide regional paths.”
While its new Sirocco at Pine Creek development in southwest Calgary takes into consideration branding and buyer expectations by focusing on upgrades and enhancements through hard and soft landscaping. The neighbouring community of Belmont has a playground that has become a focal point of life not just for the community but for the surrounding area as well.
In spring 2021, Anthem United’s community of Cornerstone in the northeast will welcome two soccer fields as well as northeast Calgary’s newest cricket pitch. “The cricket pitch has been designed to Australian Cricket specifications and has been sized to accommodate junior (12 & under) and open age players.” Find out more at anthemunited.com.
Brookfield Residential is one of the big winners in this year’s BILD Calgary Region Awards, taking home trophies for its Seton and Livingston communities. A lot of its success comes from the care it gives to its greenspaces, as it dedicates approximately a third of all its communities to this.
“Our goal at Brookfield Residential is to build communities where people are inspired to live healthy and happy and neighbours can connect and feel a sense of belonging,” says Jessie Seymour, senior manager for marketing and community experience. “A large part of creating communities that promote healthy vibrant lifestyles and provide a sense of belonging are the carefully planned parks, pathways and greenspaces.”
Their new community of Rockland Park in the northwest is designed just for that. Blessed with some of the best natural environments surrounding, it is perched on an escarpment framing incredible river valley, mountain and city views and the recreational opportunities they present are just incredible.
Rockland Park is 464 acres with 120 acres dedicated to parks and greenspace. “No matter where you buy in the community, you will only be a two-minute walk from greenspace,” Seymour says. “Our vision for Rockland Park is to restore the area’s natural ecology for the benefit of all who call it home. The community will provide year-round outdoor experiences along natural and regional pathways that wind throughout the community.”
Qualico Communities Calgary
Qualico Communities knows the importance of greenspace in the community, and its new development of Dawson’s Landing in Chestermere brings in even more innovation on how to design a compelling, and ecologically-sound greenspace.
“Dawson’s Landing is integrating a number of water features into the community. We will have the Stormwater Kidney™, which will be a space that is not only beautiful, but functions as a way to clean stormwater via an ecosystem of plants and aquatic creatures,” says Emily Smith, Qualico Communities’ marketing and customer care manager.
“This will the first development in Canada and the world to implement this unique system. This unique location within the community creature much needed biodiversity and bird habitat within this urban setting. It will be vibrant and resilient to drought and floods. A similar Stormwater Kidney™ is planned for the second pond later in the development as well.”
Qualico is also working to integrate as much of the existing wetlands in the area to Dawson’s Landing’s EcoPark. “The EcoPark is intended to be the neighbourhood focal point offering interpretive boards or plaques along a nature walk to educate about wetland species, ecology and biology,” Smith says.
Qualico is also continuing the greenspace evolution in their other communities like Crestmont View in the southwest with its stunning pathways with beautiful views, and the new maze park in Redstone. But the up-and-coming Adventure Zone in Harmony is something to look forward to.
Harmony, just west of Calgary, is jointly developed by Qualico and Bordeaux Development, and it just won Community of the Year – Calgary Region at the last BILD Awards. It’s the third time it has won.
“I think the upcoming Adventure Zone in Harmony is a really great example of innovation as well,” Smith says. “It promises to be a new way to look at how play should look like in a resort community like Harmony. There will be a beach volleyball court, toboggan hill, skating ribbon, all wheel flow plaza, off-leash dog park and more.” For more information, go to Qualico.com, or liveinharmony.ca.
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