Calgary council votes to sell part of Richmond Green park, use proceeds to expand green space

Calgary council has voted in favour of a plan to sell a portion of Richmond Green park, located at Sarcee Road and 33rd Avenue S.W., in order to expand and improve the green space.

The land use change, which council approved in a 9-5 vote Tuesday, will see a mixed-use residential and commercial development built where there are currently two baseball diamonds. 

The city will use the money from that sale to remove an old City of Calgary operations centre and clean up the land, and convert a former golf course into additional green space. A new little league baseball diamond will also replace the two that will be removed. 

The removal of the old golf course and city building will expand the park from 15.5 hectares of green space to 17.3 hectares. 

The removal of the old golf course and city building will expand the park from 15.5 hectares of green space to 17.3 hectares.  (City of Calgary)

Dozens of residents spoke against the rezoning on Monday and Tuesday, including Lloyd Bumstead, who described himself as a baseball dad who also fought development on the same site in 1998.

“Sadly a new generation of profiteers and plunderers have emerged to assault a … well loved and used green space,” Bumstead said.

But Coun. Evan Woolley said misinformation fuelled some of the dissent about the city’s plan, including suggestions put forward by members of the public that the entire park would be sold or that the green space would shrink. 

Woolley said council’s vote means the park will now see improvements that otherwise might not have happened for years. 

“This means investment dollars today to figure out what we do with a closed golf course, as opposed to the suggestion that this go to November’s budget, be included in a priorities list … and we know that that list is very, very long,” he said.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi was among a minority of council members who opposed the plan because he said he’d rather see the city find the money elsewhere. But, he said the city will still get more park space and better park space this way.

“Administration would have had to find the funds, and administration was operating on council’s direction earlier which was to be creative and look at ways of funding these things that don’t go to the taxpayer,” Nenshi said.

And, he said it’s not unprecedented to participate in land swaps with developers for park space — adding that the city has opened other parks recently under similar agreements. 

Administration will present a plan to council by next summer for the updated park.

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