March 05, 2021 | Andrea Cox
Natural neighbourhood: Chestermere's Kinniburgh is a haven for young families and outdoor enthusiasts
The community of Kinniburgh in southeast Chestermere has quickly become coveted by Calgarians yearning for a more pastoral, connected way of life – one that revolves around the beauty of nature and lakeside living. The community itself is relatively new, with plan approvals not yet 15 years old, but the land has a rich and varied history.The community is named after piano shop owner Charles Kinniburgh, a homesteader in the late 1890s who purchased tracts of arable wetlands on the east side of the irrigation reservoir that would become Chestermere Lake. Today, Kinniburgh North and Kinniburgh South encompass close to 90 hectares of land and Chestermere Lake has become a summer and winter playground for the 20,000-plus residents of the city of Chestermere, located 15 minutes east of Calgary.
Jared and Vera Totland are a young couple who moved to Kinniburgh a year ago in search of shorter commute times, a strong sense of community and a small-town feel.
They built a 2,400-square-foot, three-bedroom, craftsman-style home in the community with builder group Broadview Homes.
"We have a lot of young families around us and it's a real community-type feel," said Jared Totland.
Ryan Armstrong, who moved to Kinniburgh Estates with his wife and two young children from northwest Calgary a few years ago, agrees.
"It is this big, walking, talking amenity and it promotes this whole different social atmosphere." - Ryan Armstrong, Kinniburgh resident
"It's really got an old-world feel to it," he said. "It's amazing to be able to access nature right out of your back door – the lake, the beaches, the parks, the pathways. It is this big, walking, talking amenity and it promotes this whole different social atmosphere."
In Chestermere (which gained city status in 2015), 57.2 per cent of the population is under 40 years of age, 30.4 per cent of the population is under the age of 20 and most residents live in single-family homes (74 per cent). Much like the Totlands and Armstrongs, many Chestermere residents are new to the community. Over the past 37 years, the population of Chestermere has surged from 424 people in 1980 to the current figure of 20,331, with growth increasing by almost 20 per cent since 2014.
New schools are popping up to accommodate the influx of young families. In Kinniburgh, East Lake School – a new French immersion, K-9 school – is accessible via several walking paths. In fact, the community connects with 26 kilometres of regional biking and walking pathways that link the community to the lake and surrounding green spaces. The school was a big selling factor for the Totlands, who have a young preschooler, and for the Armstrongs.
"We can watch the kids walk into the school from our house," said Armstrong. "There is just an aura of safety here ... people are more extroverted, and that creates a deep-rooted neighbourhood and community."
But the real allure of Kinniburgh, and the broader Chestermere area, is the bounty of outdoor amenities and healthy lifestyle choices that are available. The city is home to seven parks, plus a BMX park, a skateboard park and a brand new beach area. Kinniburgh offers lake access through the Calgary Yacht Club, and residents can participate in a variety of water sports, from sailing to kayaking. A pond in Kinniburgh also provides a great place for winter skating and sparking conversations with other families.
"We were really ready for a change," said Armstrong. "Here we walk a lot more, we ride bikes, we ice fish. We are members of the yacht club. We love it."