Going for a walk is good for your heart in more ways than one. The benefits are both cardiovascular and emotional, as your heart pumps both blood and good vibes as your enjoy nature and the people in the community in which you live.
Walkable neighbourhoods are all the rage. Communities in which walking to your neighbours, walking to the park or the store or the neighbourhood coffee shop is easy, simple and safe. Researchers are now extolling the benefits of walkable neighbourhoods that may also be safe for your brain, encouraging cognition and improved memory in seniors. Communities in which getting outside, meeting people and provide a motivating atmosphere by virtual of their physical makeup may help with cognitive impairment later in life.
So what neighbourhoods in Calgary might fit the bill? Communities in which folks feel secure while on foot, and feature places of interest, pleasant things to see as you stroll along and plenty of gardens and people to meet?
One of Calgary’s original neighbourhoods, Bridgeland was settled by German and Italian immigrants. Their legacy lives on in this community with many of older homes boasting the proverbial white picket fences and large back-yard garden plots. This is a community of varied architecture with older homes, new infills and multi-family buildings with retail store fronts. The street scape in Bridgeland is exciting with restaurants and stores, with lots to see along Edmonton Trail. For ambitious people, the zoo is within walking distance and the Bow River Pathway. An LRT station is within walkable distance along Memorial Drive NE.
There are many charming elements to this inner-city community that make it especially wonderful as a walkable neighbourhood. You have the Elbow River along the southern boundary of this historic neighbourhood and its pathway and green space. You have the Talisman Centre at your doorstep. You have churches, historic buildings, interesting old homes and blocks upon blocks of shopping, restaurants, bars, coffee shops and more along 4 St. SW. There’s a Safeway store in Mission, one of the few full-size grocery stores in Calgary’s inner-city.
Inner-city neighbourhoods with their wide sidewalks are easy to identify as walkable neighbourhoods, mostly because they were constructed before the car became king and were built for the ease and safety of the pedestrian. Oakridge is in South West Calgary, built in the 1970s and early 1980s on former farm land. What makes this suburban residential neighbourhood a great place to walk are the pathways behind the homes. Generally reserved for back lanes, Oakridge is pedestrian-friendly with pathways that link the community with the community centre and school yard in the heart of the area. While some roads need to be crossed along the way, they are not primary collector roads. Furthermore, Oakridge is built on the south side of the Glenmore Reservoir with the western edge of the community butting up against the Tsuu T’ina First Nation. These natural areas provide a tranquil place to go for a stroll any time of year.
Located in Calgary’s deep South East quadrant, McKenzie Towne was built in the early 1990s and was built with a nod to the inner city communities of the past. The layout of the community harkens back to the old days of village-squares where activity happened along Main Street. In McKenzie Towne, the heart of the community is where the shops are, where the church is and community services such as the fire station is located. The architecture brings Charles Dickens to mind. The homes are built close to the streets with verandahs so neighbours can greet each other. Storm water is collected in wide canals nearby with marsh birds calling to folks out for a walk on a summer’s day. What’s old is new again in walkable McKenzie Towne.
You know you’re in for a treat when you visit Nolan Hill and are greeted by the stone ruins from a Scottish Castle days of yore. Replica ruins, of course, but it only arouses your curiosity to wonder what else this neighbourhood might offer. Intrigue can be part of a walkable neighbourhood as well. Nolan Hill has only been in existence for less than five years, built close to Symon’s Valley Ranch with its market and farm store. It’s a walkable neighbourhood where you feel like you’re out in the country, with the wind whistling across the open prairie to the north, or ...are you really on the Scottish moors? Your imagination comes along with you in Nolan Hill, one of Calgary’s newest walkable communities.