Play. When I think of kids, that’s what I think of: play. Often that’s how I get to connect with so many of Calgary’s children and their families - at sporting events, at parks, and at community festivals (usually with bouncy castles... though my team always forbids me from going into them - so unfair!). The chance to join in play is the essence of childhood, and we have to make sure that all children have access to these opportunities.
Yet it seems as though being able to play isn’t as easy as it used to be. Sports like soccer, hockey, and dance are not an insignificant expense, and in these challenging economic times, some families have to consider cutting back. In September, Calgary is hosting the International Conference of Play where experts from around the world will gather to find ways to ensure that all children know what it means to get out and play. We want to make Calgary a city of play that is accessible to everyone.
But what exactly does that mean? Well, in 2018, The City of Calgary will open two new recreation facilities, one in Rocky Ridge in the Northwest and another in Seton in the Southeast. That’s after we opened two others over the past year-and-half: Great Plains Recreation Facility and the Remington YMCA in Quarry Park. These recreation centres were long overdue, and I am proud that your City Council and I were finally able to fund these projects. They are all critical parts of the community that serve all of our citizens.
We have also made investments in skateparks throughout the city - building new ones and enhancing existing ones. In most cases, these skateparks are providing recreational opportunities for youth in established communities that can sometimes be overlooked when it comes to building new infrastructure.
It’s very important that all children, no matter what part of the city they live in, have the ability to go out and play in their neighborhood. The past few years have seen significant upgrades to regional parks such as Confederation Park, Bowness Park, and Prairie Winds Park. The City has supported Parks Foundation Calgary with the establishment of the Rotary-Mattamy Greenway - the largest urban pathway in the world! It’s a 150-kilometre circle incorporating 13 unique parks and linking 55 different communities. I also love the new St. Patrick’s Island (a giant urban park) and the new jewels of the inner city: Barb Scott Park and Thomson Family Park. And then there’s the New Brighton Athletic Park, a refurbished Calgary Soccer Centre, and newly-renovated pools and arenas across the city.
But there is still a lot left to do. Despite an economic downturn, our city continues to grow - along with it, the need to make sure we remain one of the most liveable cities in the world; a city of opportunity for everyone. This includes promoting pedestrian and transportation safety around playgrounds and schools, as well as ensuring fields and equipment are accessible to all.
Community-building is not just about constructing roads or determining what should be built and where (although we do a lot of it!). It is about creating a place where all citizens, no matter their age, are valued and can enjoy a high quality of life. And when you’re a kid, what better measure than having the ability to play, whether through organized sports or having adventures with friends in your neighborhood.
I know The City of Calgary takes play very seriously, and that means a lot more fun for all of us!
Mayor Nenshi holds a Bachelor of Commerce (with distinction) from the University of Calgary, where he was President of the Students’ Union, and a Master in Public Policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, where he studied as a Kennedy Fellow. Keep up-to-date on the latest news and information regarding Mayor Nenshi and this great city at calgarymayor.ca. Feeling social? Follow the Mayor on Facebook, facebook.com/NaheedNenshi, and Twitter @nenshi.
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