Calgary’s Bridgeland community asks public to help name 8 parks

Residential tower construction surrounds Murdoch Park park in Bridgeland. It’s one of the reasons the community’s beautification committee leader, Deb Lee, thought they needed to raise the profile of some of the community’s lesser-known green spaces.

Because as more people move to the area, she said, the better known parks will become busier.

The Bridgeland Riverside Community Association is supporting Lee and her group of eager volunteers as they begin consultations on eight parks in the neighbourhood that need names. It’s hoped this will raise the profile of some of the lesser-known parks in the area.

“The small little green spaces that we have in various corners of our community are not well known and they have no names,” Lee said. “You can’t even tell somebody that you want to meet them there because it has no name.”

One of the parks, now known as the General Plaza, has quickly become the heart of Bridgeland. It features chairs, lighting and a foosball table. People in the community gather on the little plaza to drink coffee and enjoy winter fires. For that space, recognizing that Bridgeland was once considered Calgary’s Little Italy, the name Piazza might be more fitting, Lee said. 

“It really is a village square,” she said.

Bridgeland Riverside Community Association president Alex MacWilliam and director Deb Lee walk through what’s now known informally as General Plaza. (Helen Pike/CBC)

Community association president Alex MacWilliam said many of these parks are small and community-kept secrets.

“One of the parks is so well hidden that they’re even suggesting that perhaps it should be called Hidden Park,” MacWilliam said. “They’ve done a great job of looking around and seeing where people are going, where people are congregating, how they’re using them.”

Engagement in parks, canvassing and online

The engagement process includes online and paper surveys. Volunteers with Lee’s group are spending time in parks, talking to residents and park users to gather more insights and ideas.

Lee said the process, and the story behind chosen names, are the most important parts of this engagement. 

To help focus, the group will spend a few weeks in each of the parks proposed for renaming — with signs and a QR code that leads to a survey for those who are walking by with cellphones. Volunteers will also canvas nearby homes to consult with residents. 

“It’s really interesting to hear the impressions people have or what they see when they go to the park or what they like about it,” Lee said.

To help residents give feedback, volunteers have put up signs with information and QR codes leading to a survey on the park naming initiative in Bridgeland. (Helen Pike/CBC)

The community association has already met with the city’s naming steward to go through the process. Ultimately, any names that the community comes up with will have to follow city policy and procedures before going to council for a final say. 

This spring, the Langevin School in Bridgeland was renamed after years of debate and inaction. It’s something MacWilliam said the naming committee is mindful of.

“That’s being factored in by this group, looking at what these spaces are, what the history is and all that has to be taken into consideration, and hopefully at the end of the process, we’ll have some names that everybody will be comfortable with,” said MacWilliam. 

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