June 17, 2013 | Cody Stuart
Southern ComfortsAlberta is blessed with some obvious geographical advantages. To the west, the foothills and Rocky Mountains provide ample opportunity for recreation, and the prairies to the east offer plenty of lakes and rivers to enjoy. But when it comes to Calgary, suitable locations for aquatic activities can be tough to come by.
With Cranston bordering Fish Creek Park and the scenic Bow River; and Auburn Bay, it's neighbor to the east, containing its own 17-hectare freshwater lake, the two communities on Calgary's south side have essentially brought the best of Alberta into the backyards of area residents. Sitting within a short ride or walk from either community, Calgary's expansive path network – which stretches 700 kilometres around the city – means nearly any area of the city is accessible via two wheels or two feet.
For residents of Auburn Bay, kayaking and swimming off the community's private beach and taking part in your own community beach party or movie in the park are part of the package. For those living in Cranston, having Fish Creek Park for a next-door neighbor means fly-fishing followed by dinner cooked over a campfire doesn't have to be an activity restricted to far away camping trips.
Judging by last year's census numbers, Calgarians were eager to take advantage of the benefits of living in Cranston and Auburn Bay. According to the City of Calgary, the two communities ranked amongst the top four in terms of growth, with populations increasing by 1,424 in Auburn Bay (ranking behind only 2,396 new residents in Panorama Hills) and 1,026 in Cranston.
While the two communities lay on the Calgary's southern limits, easy access to Macleod Trail and Deerfoot trail means residents can be downtown in under 30 minutes. The area provides ample shopping options with the 180 shops of the newly revamped Southcentre Mall and Calgary's largest mall — Chinook Centre's — both a short drive away.
Fish Creek Park
Stretching 20 kilometres from Tsuu T'ina Nation to the Bow River, Calgary's Fish Creek Park is one of the largest urban provincial parks in Canada. Roughly three times the size of Vancouver's Stanley Park, the 1,300 hectare park features over 90 kilometres of trails, both paved and unpaved, along with an award winning restaurant in the form of The Ranche. Construction has also begun in the park on the city's first mountain bike skills park.
Originally built by William Roper Hull more than 100 years ago, this historic ranch house is now an elegant dining room in the peaceful setting of Fish Creek Provincial Park. The Ranche is the perfect place for a romantic dinner for two, lunch with friends or venue for weddings and corporate events. Dishes on the restaraunt's award-winning menu include Slow Roasted Wild Boar Shoulder and Brome Lake Duck Breast.
McKenzie Meadows Golf Club
Nestled in the Bow River Valley in Fish Creek Park, McKenzie Meadows features seven lakes, white sand bunkers and four tee boxes for all levels of golfer. For those duffers who need a little help, the McKenzie Meadows Golf Academy is staffed by top Canadian Professional Golf Association golf professionals – there's also a two-ended practice range, two large putting greens and practice bunkers.
South Health Campus
Redefining the way health care is delivered within the community by integrating leading technology, research and education with unique healing environments and progressive environmental design, Calgary's $1.3 billion South Health Campus sits on 18 hectares at Deerfoot Trail South and 196th Ave S.E. Once all the phases are complete in the fall of 2013, it is expected 2,400 staff and 180 doctors will work at the South Health Campus.