5 Coolest Community & Design Interventions, Calgary 2014


Calgary Surfing

Photo: Grace Honsberger-Grant

While Calgary enjoys the last vestiges of hot summer weather, I’m taking a look back at the top five coolest community and design interventions I saw whilst biking around this summer.

1. Surfing on the wave in the Bow River

Every summer I have the same conversation with many fellow Calgarians; Calgary summers are wonderful, the weather is nice and there are festivals and events every weekend, but we have no ocean and there are few water sports to participate in. I usually respond by rambling on about rafting on the Bow or swimming in one of the man-made lakes Calgary has to offer, however this summer I found something new to talk about!

In mid-August, the water levels on the Bow fell to the perfect level, creating a natural wave under the 10th Street Bridge where surfers and kayakers frolic in the water from sun up to sun down. The wave not only attracts a number of wetsuit-clad surfers and kayakers, it also attracts spectators from the bike path. Pedestrians and cyclists step off the path while others sit on the grass with sandwiches in hand watching the surfers and kayakers play. Although I don’t kayak or surf, I get a certain thrill out of watching these girls and guys ride a wave in the middle of the prairies. So, Calgary may not have the ocean, but what we do have is a number of creative people who can find a wave in the heart of downtown and enough people on our bike paths to take the time to watch this spectacle for a few minutes.

Calgary Surfing 2

Photo: Grace Honsberger-Grant

2. Live Music at Angel’s on the Bow River

On its small corner off Memorial Drive along the Bow River bike path, Angel’s Cappuccino and Ice Cream Cafe has created a cozy outdoor spot to watch a sunset. Best known as a spot for grabbing ice cream cones on a hot summer day, the cafe is also a hidden gem of an evening destination for tea, outdoor seating and live music. An outdoor living room has been created with guests sipping tea and coffee atop couches, carpets and pillows surrounded by outdoor fireplaces while a local musician performs. A cozy outdoor oasis with the caffine and the smell of campfire and acoustic guitar – what more could you want from a bike pathway after dark? Open mic nights take place every Friday throughout the summer and local artists play during the week.

3. Community Orchard at Hillhurst Sunnyside Community Centre

The West Hillhurst and Sunnyside communities are known for having some of Calgary’s longest running community gardens. The Hillhurst-Sunnyside community gave rise to Calgary’s first Community Orchard several years ago through the City of Calgary’s Community Orchard Pilot Project (940 4a St. NW). The Orchard includes cherry bushes, hazelnut bushes, gooseberry bushes, honeyberry buses, and apple, apricot and pear trees. This year, an additional orchard, shown below, has been planted at the Hillhurst-Sunnyside Community Centre, tucked between the building and the tennis courts. September is really the perfect time to visit these orchards and the rest of the garden to enjoy the harvest.

4. Outdoor Piano and Seating Area on 3rd St.

For the last 3 years Calgary’s Downtown Association has brought pianos to Calgary’s downtown streets during the summers, and this year’s piano is the most beautiful one yet. It is located on Third Street and Sixth Avenue SW. It is adorned with wild flowers and potted plants draping its panels, and accompanied with four sunny yellow deck chairs for listeners to relax in. Jesse Moffatt, a Calgarian piano designer who is best known for his work saving musical artifacts during the city’s 2013 flood, designed Third Street’s outdoor piano. I really encourage you to meander along 3rd Street and have a listen to the many talented people who regularly play the piano, or play the piano yourself before it gets packed up for the winter!


Artwork at ContainR. Photo: Grace Honsberger-Grant

5. ContainR Site in Kensington/Sunnyside

ContainR in Kensington is a new community space in Kensington and Sunnyside (1020 2nd Ave, NW) that hosts everything from orchestra concerts to bee keeping tutorials. The site’s floor, stage, office and storage areas are all made of beautifully redesigned, repurposed shipping containers, adding a wonderful community, artistic feel to the corner. The site incorporates a variety of types of local artwork and permaculture gardens and holds multiple events per month. I went to a number of fun event this summer, however they are hosting some more interesting ones this fall.

Visit www.springboardperformance.com/containr for more information on upcoming events or take a walk by the ContainR site to see the beautiful public artwork and gardens the site hosts.


Artwork at ContainR. Photo: Grace Honsberger-Grant

Kate2Kate Beck is an aspiring urban planner who is passionate about streets, social justice, bicycles and rock climbing. She spent the summer helping to connect Active Neighbourhoods with the Bridgeland community. She is currently finishing her degree in geography at University of British Columbia in Vancouver.


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