Call of the Wetland

Chirp, Croak, Peep! Can you hear the Call of the Wetland?

Calgary Parks Foundation Mattamy-Rotary greenway project provides over 138km of connected green space for Calgarians to enjoy into the future. A vital part of the support for this project is based on Calgarians commitment to recreation and nature. When offered an amenity for their support for the Greenway project, Enbridge recognized the value of nature for Calgarians and wanted to provide a platform for citizens to get involved in urban conservation. Enbridge supported the development of Call of the Wetland, a citizen science project, that invites you to participate by signing up for a scheduled survey or reporting your incidental amphibian observations via the Call of the Wetland app at wetlands throughout the city.

Did you know 90% of pre-settlement wetlands have been lost to development, climate change and pollution in the City of Calgary. This is not only a trend in Calgary, but in urban centres worldwide. Wetlands play a vital role in the water cycle, provide many important ecological services and contain habitat for a biodiverse cast of critters.

Over 150 of your neighbours have downloaded the app and over 100 diligent volunteers have been completing scheduled surveys since April. Our wonderful participants are aged 4-85, proving you’re never too young or to wise to learn more. We welcome all skill levels including beginners that are interested in learning, and experts that are looking for an excuse to get outdoors. There are 60 local wetlands with scheduled surveys available throughout the city, and you are also invited to report incidental observations at any wetland within city limits that you have access to. There are survey times available until August 31 this year, but we’ll be back in action from April-August of 2018 and 2019. Within the remaining run of the project we have 1140 surveys to complete, so we need your help.

To learn more and get involved please visit www.callofthewetland.ca or email tyne@rockies.ca.

My Greenway Story

For quite some I had heard that Calgary was going to build a trail that went all around the city. But I didn’t think that the trail was actually near completion. When driving on Stoney Trail, I’d often see people walking or cycling along a path that paralleled the ring road. One afternoon we decided to cycle the path from Saddleridge to see where it went, it was there that I first noticed the signs for the greenway. Then a few weeks later we were out for a walk in the Weaslehead and I noticed the same signs. This trail must go a long way, I thought to myself. That night I decided to google the pathname to see where it started and ended. And that my friends, is how I discovered the Rotary/Mattamy Greenway.

My husband and I had already decided we were going to cycle the entire path this summer, not once but twice. Our strategy was to pick a starting point, cycle out along the path to a predefined point and then turn around and go back to our starting point. Our next trip, would start where we left off. The summer challenge fit in nicely with our plans.
On the first day of the challenge we loaded our bikes on the truck and started in Evanston and rode our way to Tuscany and back. It was nice to cycle through the neighbourhoods and had the challenge of a few hills along the way. Actually, those hills are not too challenging when you have an electric bike to help you up those hills!

The next trip took us from Tuscany to Edworthy Park, this is my favourite route of the trail, along the river and through Bowness Park, we took a few detours there. Edworthy to the Weaselhead was our next trip. Our longest trip was from the Weaselhead through Fish Creek. With a few detours, we logged over 50km. Our final trip in the summer challenge took us from Fish Creek through Cranston, Seton and Auburn Bay. Although we logged all our kms in the summer challenge, we aren’t finished yet. We still have the south east side of the trail to experience, we will start at the new hospital in Seton and make our way North. I am looking forward to cycling through the wetlands in the south east and on the Ralph Klein Park. Join us as we cycle our way around the city in 2017.

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.

Make Greenway 150 YOUR Summer Challenge

Are you looking to set a personal goal and get some exercise this summer? Then make Greenway 150 your Summer Challenge. Parks Foundation Calgary is challenging you to challenge yourself. The best part is that it’s an attainable goal that gets you some fresh air, exercise, and fun in the process. Bring your friends, family, and pets on board too!

Here’s the deal: from June 25 to August 28, you have to log 150 kilometres on the Rotary/Mattamy Greenway citywide. It doesn’t matter which quadrant of the city you live in, because the best part is that you can navigate the Greenway wherever you live! You can do 5 km per day, or you can do all 150 km at once. You can do it on your own, or you can do it with a team. The choice is your’s; the challenge is your’s! You’ve got two months to do it!

How do you get started? Registration kicked off today. It’s super easy to register – you can do it right here on the Website. Once you’ve registered, there are four ways to track your progress (because you don’t want to miss a single kilometre!)

Here’s how: if you’re reading this, you’re already on the site. Now just go to Summer Challenge, and scroll down to Step 2 (Four Ways to Track Your Progress). If you’re old-school, then it’s easy enough to print a form and track your kilometres on paper. If you’re slightly more savvy, you can download the form to your computer and save your kilometres as you track them. You can also use a link that you will receive via email after you register. Lastly, we’ve got handy passports which you can pick up at the Parks Foundation Calgary office. The passport is a great little tool to keep on hand, log your progress, distribute to family and friends; and comes complete with maps and tips. It’s a great keepsake of your journey.

And here’s the kick. You can use social media to report on your progress and get others in your community involved! Tag Parks Foundation Calgary, and use the hashtags #Greenway150 and #MyGreenway for your chance to win weekly prizes. The beauty of the Greenway is that links 55 communities. The beauty of the Summer Challenge is that it links the people of these communities. It’s easy, free, fun, and just a little sweaty. So set your goal now and sign up!

The Greenway

I have been surprised to hear how few people know about the “Rotary Mattamy Greenway”! Well, let’s change that!!

I did not know that much about “the Greenway” either, and decided to find out! As is customary these days, I went to Google first:

“This will be the largest pathway system in the world.” – Naheed Nenshi, Mayor City of Calgary

Parks Foundation Calgary is building on Calgary’s nearly 1,000 km of pathways with the Rotary/Mattamy Greenway Project. When complete, the Greenway will be a 138km network of parks and pathways that will encircle the city: specialty off-leash dog parks, family fitness parks, educational wetland interpretive areas, and unique play structures. The Greenway will be a year-round destination for cyclists, cross-country skiers, runners, walkers, nature lovers, and kids of all ages to play outdoors. Directly connecting to 55 Calgary communities in all four quadrants, and to The City of Calgary’s existing pathway network, makes the Greenway accessible to all Calgarians. When completed, the Greenway will be the longest urban pathway and park system in the world. See more.

We then decided to ‘do’ the Greenway a couple of weeks ago. We did some research and rounded up a few Rotarians to join us. Dave and Sue Impey from Calgary West, Phil Hochausen from Calgary Heritage and Len Kushner from Calgary South.

We decided to split up the 138km into two days. On day #1 we would cycle the West and North legs and day #2 the East and South legs.

We set off with three fellow Rotarians on Saturday 30th July at 9am from Grey Eagle hotel. Headed north, through Glamorgan making our way to Westhills shopping centre. The north, along the west side of Sarcee Trail before dropping down into Edworthy Park. We crossed the Bow River and cycled on the north side of the river, through Shouldice Park and the neighbourhoods of Montgomery, Varsity and Sliver Springs, enjoying wonderful sights of Bowness and Canada Olympic park.

We crossed under Stoney Trail and made our way northward under Nose Hill Drive and through the beautiful neighbourhood of Tuscany, offering us fantastic views of the city.

We enjoyed a welcome pit stop at Tim Hortons (Nose Hill Drive) along the way. We reached the LRT station in Tuscany. This is where Dave and Sue decided to head home, as they had a prior commitment, and took the LRT.

Phil, Ariën and I pressed on northward, lapping up the scenic pathways as it meandered through the suburbs of Royal Oak, Sherwood Simons Vally, Kincora and Evanston. We enjoyed a free lunch break in Evanston at an “Organ Donation” awareness tent. The burger was delicious and re-energized us as we continued on eastward. In a couple of spots the pathway has not been completed (this is marked in red on the map).

We continued on and eventually the pathway cam to an abrupt end at 14th street NW – a dirt road to the Balzac road and then east to Centre Street and south on Centre Street down to Stoney trail. A long detour, but enjoying being out on the country roads.

 
The north section from Centre Street, heading east to the south leg of Stoney through Coventry Hills, Redstone and Skyview is under construction and will be completed shortly – I would guess to say in the Summer of 2017! Hopefully!

My niece Megan, picked us up that evening and took us home. We enjoyed a good sleep at home. Bright and early the next morning Megan dropped us back in the north east, allowing us to complete the circumnavigation of Calgary on the Greenway.

We headed south from Skyview on 6th street NE, and crossed Country Hills Boulevard. Countinued on through Saddleridge play park. Then southward, cycling along the west side of Stoney Trail. The pathway winds its way through the grass fields and around the ponds along the way. Just beautiful – through Taradale and Coral Springs.

The pathway then heads west to the traffic lights where one crosses McKnight Boulevard and then back east into another interpretive wetland. We made our way southward through Monterey Park to 16th avenue NE, taking another west jog to cross at the lights before heading east and south again, to the Memorial Drive Playground Park. We crossed the railway line and headed into Applewood Park.

At 17th avenue SE we enjoyed a stop at Tim Hortons for a welcome coffee break. The route then takes to the streets, with us heading west along 17th avenue SE to 52nd street SE. We cycled south, all the way down 52nd street to the Chestermere canal (south of 98th avenue SE).

 

Once on the canal pathway, we headed east crossing under Stoney trail and on to 84th street SE. Then south through Shepard into Ralph Klein Park. This is where we met up with Phil and Len. Phil was our guide for the next leg. We headed back up 84th street SE and West along 114th avenue SE, under Stoney and then south through the wetlands. The wooden boardwalk meandered through the wetlands was outstanding. As we made our way south towards the South Health Campus, we relied on Phil to guide us through the neighbourhoods of Copperfield, Mahogany and Auburn Bay. It was wonderful to see the newer neighbourhoods in the SE. In fact, cycling the Greenway was an eye opener for us. We visited places that we had never been to before. We didn’t even know that some of them existed!

Once at the South Health Campus the Greenway heads west over Deerfoot Trail and into Cranston with spectacular views of the Rockies and the valley below with the Bow River. Cycling along the ridge was breathtaking. We then dropped down to the Bow River and made our way along the river bank and under Marquis of Lorne Trail. We passed the McKenzie Meadows Golf Club and into Mountain Park. We then crossed the Bow and entered beautiful Fish Creek Provincial Park.

We stopped for lunch at Annie’s. It was then, back into the saddle for the last leg westward to 37th street SW. The Greenway through Fish Creek is absolutely beautiful as it meanders through Fish Creek, crossing the creek several times. The pathway has been completely restored after the flood of 2013.

Then north up to Glenmore Reservoir. There is a bit of a climb as one heads north out of the Fish Creek valley. The pathway follows 37th street SW, and takes you through the Woodlands. One crosses 37th street at the lights and heads into Cedarbrae and Oakridge. It’s a lovely cycle down the hill and then into Weaselhead. Another Gem! The path takes you through the wetlands as it meanders towards Glenmore reservoir and the bridge over the Elbow River.

There is a final steep climb up into Lakeview, then northward up 37th street and back to the Grey Eagle Hotel.

Wow!!

We really got a great feel for Calgary and especially all the new suburbs that are springing up along it’s perimeter. We highly recommend “the Greenway”. It truly is a wonderful way to see the city.

 

A big thank you to Rotary, Mattamy and Parks Foundation Calgary. Hope to see you out there on your bike or walking!

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