By Rebecca Wissink
Walkability is all about how friendly a place is for those who choose to walk - with the presence of sidewalks, footpaths, or pedestrian lanes, and favorable roads and traffic conditions for accessibility and safety. A walkable community has significant places to walk to, like restaurants, shops, and other amenities, and encourages its citizens to get out and mingle on the streets.
Walking not only offers health and economic benefits to homeowners, but from the city’s perspective, walkability is about health and fiscal responsibility too. The executive director of Sustainable Calgary, Celia Lee, says the city needs to invest in creating walkable communities. Lee suggests the increase in chronic diseases across Canada over the last ten years are related to the way cities have been built around the car. And Calgary Councillor Gian-Carlo Carra adds that cities have to invest in existing communities due to finances, because infrastructure like transit is expensive, so you want those services compacted into the smallest area possible. Carra says ‘We want to build a city that makes more and more dollars and cents from the perspective of how we run the city.” So, a walkable community is environmentally friendly, good for you, and good for the city’s budget.
Homebuyers consider walkability as among the top qualities they expect from the best Calgary communities. Walkability in real estate translates to higher home values, a reduction in transportation costs - which are the second largest household expense - leaving more room in the budget for Sunday brunch, and a lowered commute time which is important since you're never getting those hours back! And with the cost of gas these days, who doesn't want to walk a bit more often? These are some of the reasons why Calgary home buyers prefer communities with a high walk score.
So, what is a walk score exactly? It’s an algorithm that awards points between 0 – 100 based on a location’s distance from amenities such as restaurants, parks, coffee shops, libraries, grocery stores, pubs, entertainment, schools, and banks. “A score of 90 to 100 means daily errands don’t require a car and a score between 70 and 89 means most errands can be done on foot.” The scores seen in this article next to the community name are directly from WalkScore.com. According to Avenue Magazine Calgary, the top five neighbourhood scores for walkability, in 2020, were:
1. Beltline – 91 (tie)
1. The Downtown Commercial Core - 91 (tie)
3. Lower Mount Royal - 88
4. Downtown West End - 87
5. Cliff Bungalow - 85
Fortunately, there are several Calgary communities which are very walkable. Let’s explore the top 10 most walkable communities:
Beltline – walk score of 91
Considered the most walkable community in Calgary, Beltline is a larger community located in the central region of the city, directly south of Calgary’s downtown. It is bounded by 17th Avenue SW at the south, 9th Avenue SW at the north, the Elbow River to the east, and 14th Street SW to the west. It is home to the Calgary Stampede grounds, the Saddledome, a casino, and a performing arts studio. The community has easy access to idyllic green spaces and Calgary’s oldest park - the Central Memorial Park. It has tons of eating spots, amenities, and fitness facilities like gyms, yoga studios, tennis courts, and the Hotel Arts’ famous open-air pool. Beltline is the perfect car-free neighbourhood with commuter-cycling paths, scooter rentals, and several bus routes.
Lower Mount Royal – walk score of 88
Within walking distance of downtown Calgary, Lower Mount Royal is located along the foot of the Mount Royal hill to the south of 17th Avenue SW, between 5th Street SW and 14th Street SW. The community has several east/west bus routes which travel down 17th Avenue SW to the downtown core or to the Stampede LRT Station. With several restaurants and night spots, Calgarians can enjoy the sights and sounds of the vibrant inner city. A grocery store is located on 11th Avenue SW while a high-end shopping mall is also close by. Lower Mount Royal is walking distance to the schools of Our Lady of Lourdes, Cliff Bungalow, Connaught, St. Mary’s, and St. Monica.
Cliff Bungalow - walk score of 85
Located in the southwest quadrant of Calgary, sandwiched between the Mission and Lower Mount Royal neighbourhoods, Cliff Bungalow is a small residential and commercial inner city community with mature trees and restored century-old homes with white picket fences. The community is walking distance to downtown as well as the Elbow River Pathway and other parks. Several blocks east of Cliff Bungalow are the Stampede Grounds and Calgary Exhibition. There are two LRT stops in the community, and it’s conveniently located near shops, pubs, and restaurants along 4th Street SW. A large sports complex (formerly the Talisman Centre) with its fitness facilities including basketball courts, a gymnasium,indoor running, and an Olympic-size swimming pool, is just a few blocks away.
Sunnyside - walk score of 75
The community of Sunnyside is located in the northwest quadrant of Calgary, across the Bow River and pathway from downtown Calgary. Sunnyside is a small inner city community which offers a blend of commercial and residential spaces, with leafy tree-lined streets, and a park. Residents can walk over the Peace Bridge to enter downtown via the community of Eau Claire, stroll to their favourite pub after work, or hop on the LRT to take in a hockey or football game. Local amenities in Sunnyside include Riley Park and the Calgary Curling Club, which is just a few blocks west. Here, cricket is still played on weekends and there is an outdoor pool. Sunnyside partners with the neighbouring community of Hillhurst to form the Kensington area, a Business Revitalization Zone. Fine dining and boutique shopping is part of the Kensington experience.
Hillhurst - walk score of 75
The inner-city community of Hillhurst is located in the northwest quadrant of Calgary, bounded by the Bow River to the south, 16th Avenue N to the north and 10th Street W to the east. Flanking one side of Kensington, it is considered a destination neighbourhood because of its boutique stores, cafes, high-end restaurants, and wine markets. Hillhurst is accessible from downtown by bike or foot via the nearby Peace Bridge or by car via the Louise Bridge. Going to and from this inner-city neighbourhood is relatively easy along 16th Avenue NW (the Trans-Canada Highway) or Memorial Drive, as either route connects to the north/south arteries of Crowchild or Deerfoot Trails. Hillhurst has several parks and is home to SAIT and the Jubilee Auditorium.
Hounsfield Heights/Briar Hill - walk score of 62
The large inner-city community of Hounsfield Heights/Briar Hill formerly belonged to the Riley family. All of the real estate east of 19th Street NW was named after Mrs. Riley in the early days - her maiden name was Hounsfield. These days the community is officially known as Briar Hill. People are attracted to this neighbourhood because of the views, its proximity to downtown Calgary, and the beautiful tree-lined streets. It’s on the LRT Line and is bounded by the Trans-Canada Highway and Crowchild Trail. McMahon Stadium is a few blocks to the west and the popular concert venue, the Jubilee Auditorium, is just next door. North Hill Shopping Mall is located in Briar Hill with more shopping along 16th Avenue NW. The community has playgrounds, parks, and an off-leash dog park.
Rosedale - walk score of 59
Located in the northwest quadrant of Calgary, Rosedale is above the escarpment on the north side of the Bow River, south of 16th Avenue NW, and north of Sunnyside. It is within walking distance to downtown Calgary and close to The Alberta College of Art and SAIT. The Jubilee Auditorium is also near Rosedale, and less than 10 minutes away is U of C and the Foothills Hospital. The Trans-Canada Highway runs along the northern boundary of Rosedale, connecting to the north/south arteries of Crowchild or Deerfoot Trails. The community has an off-leash dog park, community hall, and an outdoor rink.
South Calgary - walk score of 57
Located between 34th Avenue SW and 26th Avenue SW, west of 14th Street SW and east of Crowchild Trail, South Calgary is, not surprisingly, located in the southwest quadrant of Calgary. The neighbourhood is not far from Lower Mount Royal or Cliff Bungalow. South Calgary is accessible from downtown and contains the Marda Loop district, a Business Revitalization Zone, which has become one of the most popular outdoor shopping areas in Calgary. The Marda Loop contains coffee shops, a brewing company, ice cream parlours, pubs, and boutique retailers. Larger shopping centres in the area include Chinook Centre, Westbrook Mall, and Westhills Shopping Centre. Other amenities include an outdoor pool, a public library, Garrison Woods Memorial Walk, Richmond Green Golf Course, and River Park/Sandy Beach.
To learn more about walkable Calgary communities, consult an experienced Ross Pavl ELITE Real Estate Group Realtor® today, or call for a FREE Home Evaluation in today's ever changing market.
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