Westworld Alberta

Fall 2014

Westworld Alberta

Issue link: http://westworldmagazine.ama.ab.ca/i/365611

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38 W e s t W o r l d a l b e r t a | f a l l 2 0 1 4 landscaping and small shops to make walking safer and more enticing. New light rail lines, such as the Metro Line North to NAIT, are extending into the suburbs. Grande Prairie is taking steps to make sidewalks more accessi- ble and safe. Calgary is developing denser, pedestrian-friendly clusters of shops and ser- vices around its transit lines, and working to densify its suburban neighbourhoods. As early as 2003, it turned a defunct Canadian Forces base on the southwest side of town into Garrison Woods, a planned, walkable commu- nity with a mix of townhouses, single-family homes, condos, shops and other amenities. But there are still challenges, says Hosler. Compared to older neighbourhoods set on a grid, Albertan's curvilinear suburbs often put amenities out of walking distance. "e biggest challenge with that cul-de-sac land use is the loss of connectivity between streets. You might be within a few hundred metres of your local school, but it could be a kilometre trip to go around and about to actually get there," he says. Retrofits are possible. Albertan commu- nity planners are looking to examples from around the world. For instance: five suburban communities in Cobb County outside Atlanta, Georgia, are connecting their "lollipop" streets via greenways and creating town squares, along with dense developments of shops and services, within previously resi- dential-only neighbourhoods. But the quickest and easiest retrofit of all is mentality. "It's become so ingrained in us to use the vehicle for everything that it's our default. But there are a lot of occasions when we could simply choose to use another method of transportation, like walking," Crotty says. Not that people won't drive in a walkable community, notes Hosler: "We're not trying to take all the cars off the road," he says. "It's a way people need to move around. But we are trying to encourage more healthy, active living and safer environments for people to walk." Hosler himself is proof that it's a worthy pursuit. He's lost some weight. He gets more sleep and says hello to his neighbours while he strolls to work. His daughter walks herself to school – no chauffeuring required. He drives mainly when he needs to travel longer distances for work, take his daughter to after- school activities or haul groceries on the weekend. And while his co-workers show up at the office cranky from sitting in traffic, he arrives feeling refreshed. "It's seldom not a pleasant journey," he says. W

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