June 28, 2017 | Joel Schlesinger
The great, green connector
The Rotary/Mattamy Greenway puts Calgary on the map as one of the most connected cities in the world for biking, walking and enjoying the outdoors
Calgary is world renowned for many things: the Calgary Stampede, mountain views and hosting the 1988 Winter Olympics to name a few. Now it can add the Rotary/Mattamy Greenway to that list.
The 138-kilometre pathway that follows the route of the city's ring road is a monumental achievement in green infrastructure, says Sheila Taylor, the executive director of Park Foundation Calgary, the driving force behind the $50-million undertaking.
"It is one of a kind in the world," she said, adding it connects with 1,000 kilometres of existing pathways in Calgary, linking virtually every community within the city. "The Greenway is the wheel and the other paths are the spokes."
Although it will officially open on Sept. 2, many sections of the Greenway have already been open for a few years, providing recreational opportunities for tens of thousands.
Once complete, the pathway network will directly link with 15 parks and outdoor amenities, such as the Progress Energy Memorial Garden honouring veterans, while passing through 55 communities – providing a key transportation link for more than 400,000 Calgarians.
"It's important for the city overall because it contributes to not only the healthy, active lifestyle approach, it allows them to explore Calgary and provide connectivity that otherwise wouldn't be there," said Warren Saunders, vice president of sales and marketing for Mattamy Homes in Calgary.
Mattamy is one of two lead sponsors, donating $5 million for naming rights along with Rotary Calgary, which also donated $5 million.
Saunders says the endeavour was an ideal fit for "Mattamy's philosophy" when building communities, including Cityscape and Carrington – two developments that will benefit from the Greenway.
"It fits with helping build vibrant communities that enrich people's lives," he said.
Rotary Calgary brought together the 15 different community rotary clubs from across the city and Cochrane to raise money for the Greenway.
"Never before had all of them come together to do one project," said Sherry Austin, former president of Rotary Club of Calgary South, who was deeply involved in the initiative.
Simply put, the Greenway was a unique opportunity Rotary could not help but wholeheartedly support.
"It is one of a kind in the world. The Greenway is the wheel and the other paths are the spokes." - Sheila Taylor, Park Foundation Calgary executive director
"As Rotarians, we supply a lot of funds and do a lot of volunteer work to help our community in times of need, but this time, we wanted to focus on something preventative to help keep our citizens healthy," said Austin.
Providing citizens with healthy, environmentally friendly ways to get around the city is a key reason the project has had widespread support, including from the City of Calgary.
"The City has been a big contributor with funding on three separate occasions to ensure the project could continue to move forward," said Taylor.
"It also made sure we could get sections of the pathway built in a timely manner," she added, by facilitating co-operation between the many involved communities.
Almost a decade in the making, many Calgarians are enjoying the Greenway's benefits.
"We were on the pathway the other night speaking to a mother with a three-year-old daughter, who is blind, and she was telling us the Greenway is one of the only pieces of park infrastructure that she can go to with her daughter because it's fully accessible," said Taylor.
The Greenway has also transformed what would have been open space along Stoney Trail into an unparalleled recreational asset.
"Before it moved forward, there was no ability to build parks and amenities on the transportation utility corridor," said Taylor.
"It's enhanced spaces that otherwise would not be used."
And residents of the communities along the pathway could not be more pleased.
"We hear from people all the time that they love the path," she said. "It's a real community builder."
Ride to the challenge
To raise awareness of the Rotary/Mattamy Greenway, Parks Foundation Calgary recently launched its Summer Challenge just in time for Canada's 150th birthday. The initiative encourages Calgarians to "walk, run, skip, cycle or skate" 150 kilometres of the pathway this summer. To register, visit greenway150.com.
Calgarians show their generosity
The Greenway is exemplary of Calgary's community spirit. While government provided significant support, community groups and corporations donated money and in-kind assistance too, says Sheila Taylor, executive director of Parks Foundation Calgary. Individual donors also pitched in, including the late Don Skinner – a past-president of CREB® – who donated $1 million.
Rotary/Mattamy Greenway facts and figures
- The Greenway includes 15 parks and amenities, such as the TransCanada Outdoor Fitness Park and Mahogany Wetlands; the Saddlebrook Playpark; Progress Energy Memorial Garden in Signal Hill; and the Tourmaline Outdoor Fitness Park.
- Planning began in 2008 and construction got underway in 2010 in the northeast, which previously had little access to the city's park and pathway system
- The Greenway's official opening is Sept. 2, but the trail will not be fully complete until a boardwalk over wetland in Copperfield is finished after the ground freezes later this year. Additionally, another 6.7 kilometres of trail linking the northwest and northeast is expected to be completed before the end of August, says Sheila Taylor, executive director of Parks Foundation Calgary.
Feature | Greenway | Mattamy Homes | Parks Foundation Calgary | Rotary Calgary | Rotary Club | RotaryMattamy Greenway | Sheila Taylor | Sherry Austin | Warren Saunders