Making a positive contribution to the communities we serve lies at the core of the Calgary Parking Authority (CPA’s) Mission and Vision. This includes identifying new ways to optimize the value provided to our communities.
In 2020, the CPA was thrilled to have the opportunity to be a part of not one, but two, innovative, collaborative community initiatives intended to build upon the vibrancy of our local communities: PARK PARK and High Park. In an ongoing challenging time, these large outdoor spaces provide much needed places where people can enjoy some fresh air, photo-worthy backdrops, and the amenities of these “parking parks”.
Located at 880 11 Street SE in the community of Inglewood, PARK PARK is the result of a place making project by the CPA in collaboration with the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) and the Inglewood Business Improvement Area (BIA). It reimagines what a parking lot can be; it’s a colourful, multi-use recreational space AND a parking lot. Pedestrians can experience the space and interact with it, all while it continues to operate as a parking lot.
Public City Architecture Inc., the winner of a public competition managed by CMLC, designed PARK PARK, creating a dynamic, multi-faceted installation which engages residents and visitors to Inglewood alike. PARK PARK features a vibrant mural on the asphalt surface, a basketball net, picnic table, bike pump, phone charger, Little Free Library, hand-warming area, and more.
Rebecca O’Brien, Executive Director of the Inglewood BIA, is enthusiastic about the community’s response to the project. “A local business owner recently mentioned to me that he hoped that PARK PARK would have a longer installation time than the two years allotted to the pilot. And I agree! Inglewood has long established itself as a main street that is open to experimenting with projects that challenge Calgarians and visitors to think differently about the public and private realm. Parking is only a seven-letter word, but it can quickly charge up a conversation as everyone seems to have an opinion! With that in mind, it was a breath of fresh air for the CPA and CMLC to come to the BIA with the daring concept of rethinking the use of a surface parking lot so that it is about people, not just vehicles. Within the first week of its opening, PARK PARK had already been snapped up as a perfect location for the Night Markets that needed a new approach under the pandemic. On its opening, the location was so well received by the public that the all four September Night Markets were consecutively sold out. The only downside is the number of calls I get asking for interviews on how other communities can do the same with their surface parking - it can be a little overwhelming. But as they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!”
As the cherry on top, in 2020, the Canadian Parking Association named the CPA and PARK PARK the winner of its 2020 Innovation in Parking Operations & Programs Award! Our profile can be found here.
PARK PARK is a pilot project, in place for the next two years. After that, we’ll evaluate its success and the feedback from the community and look at the potential for future placemaking projects.
Opening shortly after PARK PARK, the Beltline Neighbourhoods Association (BNA) created High Park, which is exactly what it sounds like, a new rooftop public park and event space that is on the sixth floor of the CPA’s City Centre Parkade at 340 10 Avenue SW. Located in the heart of downtown Calgary, this utilitarian space has been redesigned to accommodate multiple uses and provide much needed park space in the Beltline.
High Park features a 200-metre boardwalk lined by color-themed mini parklets, distanced picnic tables and some great city views. This is phase one of the High Park pilot, with new additions planned for the spring/summer of 2021.
Peter Oliver, President of the BNA, shares his excitement that the community and Calgary as a whole have embraced the addition to the Beltline. “High Park has been an incredible success story of how forward-thinking, creative solutions can increase the vibrancy of the greater downtown and play a role in addressing the Beltline's shortage of public space at an unprecedented time when demand has hit new record levels. The community's response to High Park has been overwhelmingly supportive while we've seen a boost to the vibrancy of the area with visitors from across the city flocking to the new innovative rooftop public space. With High Park, CPA has been a valuable community partner and collaborator in rising to new challenges and helping improve the greater community.”
The CPA believes in working collaboratively to support the current and future parking needs of the communities we serve while contributing to creating vibrant community spaces. PARK PARK and High Park allow us to do just that, encouraging people to visit these spaces and the local communities that surround them.