There is more to North Central Calgary than people realize but we are not as vocal as other parts of Calgary and seem to lose out on infrastructure as a result.
Due to natural barriers, and how road infrastructure was developed, sometimes the Northern Hills seems like an island: The Nose Creek escarpment, which was carved out by glaciers and we understand more recently, served as the original wagon trail between Calgary and Edmonton, provides our east boundary. Sadly, rather than preserve this area for its historic value as a park, the City plans on building roads, warehouses and light industrial through it, even though the Calgary North Area Structure Plan reveals an archeological site. To the south, Beddington Creek and West Nose Creek run through the south side of the future Aurora business park providing a beautiful pathway system underneath the flightpath for runway 11/29. The west is bordered by West Nose Creek and what was long ago, the John A. Lewis Rock Quarry. In addition to the natural boundaries, we are isolated inside a triangle comprised of Deerfoot Trail, Stoney Trail, and Beddington Trail, with the Centre Street vehicle trap preventing a natural connection to the south. Hidden Valley, Evanston and Kincora likely each feel like islands on their own.
Mega-complexes like Crowfoot, Westhills, South Trail Crossing and Shawnessy Centre were built while those neighbourhoods developed, but nothing similar was built in North Central Calgary. We must hop in our cars or take long transit rides to get the essentials other parts of Calgary have. We do not have the LRT, yet, and we fill the 301 faster than they can service us….busier even than the West LRT. Some days, the lack of mega-complexes is a good thing, until you are reminded of the downfall waiting in a 30 minute line at a local restaurant. But we certainly have our share of fast food restaurants.
Four teams of teenage boys from North Central Calgary commute all the way to Confederation Park for a home ball diamond, because it is our closest one….well, Airdrie’s Chinook Winds Park is actually closer. We regularly fill Airdrie Urgent Care beyond capacity because the North Calgary Diagnosis and Treatment Centre approved in the 2005 Alberta budget, has still not been built, even though the land was purchased over a decade ago. Our kids spend up to 2 hours on a bus each day going as far as Crescent Heights High School because the North Central High School, originally in the 2004 CBE Capital Plan, has still not been built while other communities are getting new high schools, even though they were not on the list 10 years ago. Recently, $1 million was funded towards the planning of the South East High School, which has only been in the capital plan TWO years. Airdrie now has THREE public high schools. And fewer people.
Vivo, formerly Cardel Place is one of Calgary’s smallest facilities and has had a lifetime investment by the City of Calgary of only $28 million, but serves the largest catchment area. When the Northwest Recreation Facility opens, it will be almost 100000 sq ft larger and serve a comparable size catchment to Vivo. The Northwest facility will cost an estimated $191 million in comparison to the $40-50 million that Vivo needs to expand. If you have ever tried to book swimming lessons or a summer camp with Vivo, you understand why an expansion is needed. If you have ever tried to find meeting or event space, you know Vivo needs more than the 15-20 person rooms it currently has available.
North Central Calgary has grown by 38% since 2004, and the Northern Hills has grown 104% from 28317 residents to 57658 people and if the proposed Harvest Hills Golf Course redevelopment is approved, we will grow to over 61000 people. Beyond our immediate community are our neighbours Hidden Valley, Evanston, Kincora and Sage Hill for another 35335 people that are also lacking the same infrastructure for a total nearing 95000 people. In the most recent census, Evanston leads the growth for Calgary….something a North Central community has done for almost 15 years straight. No public high school. No health centre. No social services, family services, seniors services, tennis courts, athletic park. No community centre, or meeting space.
Yet we persevere to be Calgary’s best communities….because of the people and our beautiful natural barriers. When a house burns and a family is found homeless, we bind together to help them out. Our community associations actively advocate with elected officials to make the community better, stronger, and seek out the infrastructure we need to make us a sustainable community. Fortunately, the Northern Hills has Harvest Hills Alliance Church that goes above and beyond to provide space for everything from tutoring, moms and tots programs, election forums, and community meetings. Our businesses give back to our community time and time again. Our community holds block parties, Stampede breakfasts, and Northern Hills Community Association members volunteer to support a youth soccer program with 1200 kids. Our seniors prepare lunches for Brown Bagging It for Calgary kids so that kids in OUR schools get a lunch because they otherwise would not have one.
We are a community of diversity. We are a community of shift workers, professionals, single parents, immigrants, seniors, middle class, low income, multi-generational families, and so much more, and most of all, Calgarians. But we could be so much more if people would pick up the phone, or send an email, and speak to elected officials or 311. If you are in Calgary Foothills and facing an election, make sure your candidates understand the issues, and then vote! Be a champion for North Central Calgary!