A friend of mine raised his young son in Vancouver’s West End. The family of 3 shared a small apartment and when people would ask how he could raise a child in the cramped quarters of the city, he would point to the park 2 blocks down from his apartment. Stanley Park, the best city park in the world, was his backyard.
Not a bad place to raise a kid.
As Calgary looks to add density to its downtown core, greenspace to play is a must to bring families and singles alike into the mix and now, with the opening of St Patrick’s Island to the east, Calgary’s rapidly developing East Village has the perfect playground.
St Patrick’s Island, the portion that makes up the western edge of the island next to the Calgary Zoo has undergone a $20M renovation that makes it a wonderful place to explore in the heart of the city.
The park development here is more rustic and natural than the one upstream at Eau Claire. Instead of covering the entire island in ‘lawn’ a number of wild areas have been left in tact while still giving visitors access to the Bow River in dozens of places and offering up amphitheatres, play spaces, and Calgary’s newest beach.
“The theme behind building this park is very simple: Let people touch the water Let people respond to the river that is the reason our city exists,” explained Mayor Nenshi. And you get to explore the waterfront right from the moment you first enter the park from the east.
At the western end, St Patrick’s Island is connected to the East Village by the newly named George C King bridge.
In between it features public art, a wonderful picnic grove, and a pebble beach that is my new favorite in the city.
There’s a playground (that needs some work)
.. and a huge hill in the center, called The Rise. It will be a wonderful toboggan park in the winter, and is a place to giggle and roll down in the summer.
This is my new favorite place to escape in the city. You can ride bikes along the pathways of the Bow River, take a break and explore in St Patrick’s Island and then make your way back from whence you came so easily. The connections to the East Village, Inglewood, Bridgeland, and the Calgary Zoo make it a proud centerpiece for the city.