Feb. 10, 2017 | Andrea Cox
There's something about Chestermere
Not your traditional suburban community
The rapidly growing community of Chestermere exudes an intrinsic lightness of being and a twinkling joie de vivre. You can feel it crackling in the air as you stroll down the pathways, watching people run, blade and bike during the summer months or cross-country ski in the winter, whooshing, swishing, all the while laughing.
"It's the people that really make this an amazing place to live," said resident Ryan Armstrong.
He moved his young family from northwest Calgary to Kinniburgh Estates in East Chestermere four years ago and hasn't looked back.
"You just feel so much more connected here. It's a fun, vibrant place to be and it's very family-centric."
Located a quick 25-minute commute from downtown Calgary, Chestermere is a haven of old-world possibilities anchored by a beach and pathway-rimmed 750-acre lake, which prominently graces the centre of the city. Armstrong says that the city's appeal revolves around the athletic and outdoor oriented opportunities that the city offers.
"Here you can ride your bike until your legs fall off. You can ride right into downtown Calgary — to the zoo — through the interconnected pathway system. You can water ski, swim, sail — you name it," he said. "There is just so much to do."
The city boasts a myriad of parks, a BMX park (it's touted as the best in Western Canada), a skateboard park and a brand new beach. It's all interconnected with over 27 km of walking and biking pathways right in to the city of Calgary, a picturesque 28 km ride along the canal system that ends at the Calgary Zoo.
Armstrong is also the vice-president of Calgary Housing at Dream Developments and the former general manager of Lifestyle Homes, so he is well-versed in the aspects of community that make life grand.
But Armstrong isn't the only one who recognizes that Chestermere is a special place; the vibe is catching on. Over the past ten years, Chestermere has grown exponentially (over 300 per cent), transforming from a summer resort area dotted with summer cabins, to a full-fledged city of almost 20,000 people.
"It's the people that really make this an amazing place to live."
Patricia Matthews, the city's mayor, says that Chestermere is striving to be both a recreational and a business oasis.
"New park spaces are in the works, as well as plans to enhance the new beach area and fine-tune the world-class bike park," she said. "And we are open for business. From commercial to light industrial, we are interested in the discussion."
With a new Economic Development Strategy approved and in place, Chestermere is hoping to attract a plethora of new businesses to the city. It is hoped that an increase in retail, restaurant and mom-and-pop oriented offerings will not only add to the city's vibrancy and charm, but contribute to fuelling the local economy by providing jobs for residents.
The development strategy sets out the long-term vision for future economic growth, employment and the quality of life in Chestermere going forward to 2035. It's a plan that incorporates Alberta's can-do philosophy.
"Council treats commercial development as a top priority, which means that business development is brought for Council decision before anything else," said Matthews.
But Chestermere's charm isn't all about activities, sports and business. Passion and dedication for the environment are also key.
Recently, Chestermere became the first Bee City in Western Canada. It's an initiative, spurred on by locals to create healthy ecosystems for bees. These tiny black and yellow pollinators are threatened with extinction — their numbers are dwindling and their decline will have significant consequences for food production.
Being a Bee City highlights Chestermere's current bee saving efforts, which include more than 70 parks and green spaces around the city, and flower and tree-planting initiatives such as Chestermere in Bloom and the Birth Forest.
A great community is about many things, safety, opportunity, recreation and a sense of belonging, but being deeply rooted in a neighbourhood and community trumps them all.
Armstrong's children walk to the new elementary school located 100 metres from the family's front door, block parties are a regular event and during the holiday season, the family's street transformed into a haven of twinkling lights, becoming Chestermere's Candy Cane Lane.
"Certainly, the social environment here is not typical of your traditional suburb community," said Armstrong.
"It almost has more of an inner-city feel, in more of a Greenfield scenario. There are lots of what I like to call 'free-range' children here because there is such an element of safety."
If Chestermere is a community that appeals to you, be sure to check out the latest listings on REALTOR.ca, or connect with your REALTOR® about the upcoming open house parade on Sat., Feb. 11. Watch for the red balloons!