Year-round, Hawkwood’s outdoor recreation area continues to completion

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Julian Warring, Principal Architect of the Tula Project, demonstrates unstructured play on posts and beams at the Hawkwood Outdoor Recreation Facility under construction Thursday, November 25, 2021. The facility will offer a variety of activities outdoors to residents of Hawkwood and surrounding Northwest communities. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

Residents of Hawkwood and surrounding communities will soon have new ways to enjoy the outdoors year-round.

The Hawkwood Outdoor Recreation Facility is nearing completion. Features such as a free play and parkour course, zipline, amphitheater and renovated ice rink will join the existing soccer fields and tennis courts.

“It’s cool, and you know, even as someone who’s watched the project every day for over two years, it still blows my mind,” said Heather Kovach, program coordinator for the Hawkwood Community Association. Kovach also worked as the project manager for the facility.

Although officially open at the end of January 2022, the association plans to organize its first event in December. The amphitheater space will be used for a performance of Christmas carols.

The community association hopes the new amenities will provide something for Hawkwood residents of all ages.

The installation is accessible from Hawkstone Drive NW, and via Hawkhill Road NW.

The amphitheater and casual skating area under construction at the Hawkwood Outdoor Recreation Facility on Thursday, November 25, 2021. The facility will provide a variety of outdoor activities for residents of Hawkwood and surrounding northern communities -Where is. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

More than just a park

Beginning in 2019, Hawkwood wanted to build an outdoor recreation space for members of its community that would be used year-round. They wanted to make sure their ice rink and tennis courts wouldn’t sit idle out of season.

When the Covid pandemic hit Calgary, the increased demand for outdoor activities caused them to re-examine their plans.

“I think we were really ahead of the curve when we started planning this, because the idea was that every element of this space should be usable 12 months out of the year,” Kovach said.

Rising costs due to the pandemic made parts of the $1.8 million project unworkable, forcing new solutions to be found, which in retrospect, according to Kovach, improved the project.

Previously, it was planned to install solar panels separate from umbrellas for picnickers. Covid-related costs forced them to combine the two elements.

“So for a cost that’s actually less than what it was going to cost us for the solar panels and the shade structure, we now have a shade structure that’s made up of solar panels, and the electricity goes straight into the grid, and it’s going to power our whole site,” Kovach said.

“We had to get creative to deliver on the design intentions that we promised the community and move forward in this aspect,” said Julian Warring, lead landscape architect for the Tula project.

Financially and environmentally sustainable

The outdoor facility should also be financially and environmentally viable.

Other ways to reduce costs included creating sustainable groundwater management at the site. It ensured that no water poured over the installation during storms.

“Some might think that being sustainable is expensive, but if you get creative, you’re sustainable, and you implement sustainable solutions like the solar shade structure, and you manage all the storm water on site and you don’t have to pay to connect to the street, it’s actually cheaper and saves money and maintenance costs in the future,” Warring said.

Wildflowers and hardy grasses will be planted in parkour and play areas. It negates the need to mow. Other landscape features will significantly reduce maintenance costs and volunteer maintenance efforts.

This kind of long-term sustainability was a major goal for the community association.

“It was almost number two to have a meeting space. It had to be easy to maintain and sustainable, because we don’t know where the funding will come from. We don’t know what will happen to government funding or grants, so we need to make sure we can actually fund it and take care of it,” Kovach said.

The association will also sell advertising space on the rink and tennis court to help pay for facility maintenance and provide community programming.

Kovach pointed to the expenses associated with operating an ice rink. This is something that citizens of the wider community don’t always think about.

“The automatic response at first is, ‘oh, that rink doesn’t cost that much,'” she said.

“But it is. They are all very expensive.

Outdoor recreation facility design. HAWKWOOD COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION

Amenities for all ages

Kovach said the design of the facility was meant to really engage community members in using all the available space.

A paved path runs along the facility. This allows users of wheelchairs, mobility scooters, or tow-along carts to access all amenities.

An unstructured playground with posts and beams allows children to play as they see fit. Warring used the example of the ground, it’s lava as something the kids could play in, the length of the unstructured play area taking them straight from the park entrance to the parkour course.

The parkour area was designed by Parkour Visions of Seattle, Washington.

“This will be one of the first outdoor parkour parks in Alberta, and it’s accessible to everyone, and they don’t have to pay user fees to use it,” Warring said.

Making sure teenagers had a place to congregate and play was important to Hawkwood.

“Teenagers miss each other. And even the things that they would like to do like skateboarding, communities don’t want it because it’s too loud,” Kovach said.

She said that while she wouldn’t be using the parkour course herself, the all-weather lounge chairs set up near the tennis courts were her favorite.

Festivals and rocks

The amphitheater area will accommodate productions during the warmer months. The shallow bowl shape can be filled with ice during the winter for occasional skating.

The renovated rink will be equipped with basketball hoops so that it can be used in the summer. In addition, a new water system has been installed to prevent the rink’s pipes from freezing during the winter, making outdoor skating and hockey maintenance much easier for volunteers.

Another unexpected benefit of the new rink is that the space could be used for festivals. There is enough loading and entry capacity for food trucks to park inside the space. Kovach said it was something that would allow proposed community events like outdoor beer tastings to take place.

Sandstone boulders are also placed throughout the facility. Warring said these will be versatile, both for children’s unstructured play and as extra seating that invites conversation in a way that formal benches don’t.

The blocks were sourced locally in Calgary, as were many of the materials used to construct the facility.

Julian Warring, principal architect of the Tula Project, left, and Heather Kovach, programs coordinator for the Hawkwood Community Association, stand next to the new parkour park at the Hawkwood Outdoor Recreation Facility under construction Thursday, Nov. 25, 2021. Parkour will be one of the few available for free in Alberta.

Same space for pickle ball

The Hawkwood Community Association knew from community members’ request that they had to have pickle ball courts.

With the help of a community member, they were able to redesign the layout of the tennis court. This allowed them to fit four pickle ball courts instead of the two originally planned.

“This person then helped us figure out what we needed to have a pickle ball available for the community. So we were able to secure funding from First Connect, to provide paddles and everything needed to run a walk-in clinic,” she said.

Pickleball players are now self-organizing, which Kovach says hopes to help advance other groups using the site.

Julian Warring, principal architect of the Tula project, left, and Heather Kovach, programs coordinator for the Hawkwood Community Association, sit in the new lounge chairs next to the tennis and pickleball courts at the Hawkwood Outdoor Recreation Facility under construction on Thursday, November 25. , 2021. The facility will provide a variety of outdoor activities for residents of Hawkwood and surrounding Northwest communities. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

Building a year-round community

Ultimately, Kovach said, the goal is to help build the Hawkwood community.

“We are just at the beginning of this kind of something that we identified a few years ago, that we need to do a better job of bringing our new Canadians, or new Calgarians, or even new Hawkwood residents into the community. and make them feel welcome,” she said.

They plan to hold skating clinics for new Canadians to get them excited about Canada’s national sport.

“So we would provide them with lessons, support and possibly some skates to use to try out first because surely there’s nothing better than seeing a new Canadian try out our winter sport, and the joy that it brings everyone,” Kovach said. .

She said a love of the outdoors will bring people together. The year-round focus, particularly on making the facility usable, is part of the City of Calgary’s Winter City plan, Kovach said.

“Being outdoors and being active is – and especially since the pandemic – so important for everyone’s mental health,” she said.

“So if we can provide fun, inexpensive activities for the community, people can go out and try, you know, they’re going to experience the joys of winter.”

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