How to reno an old neighbourhood

Sunnyside Community School

I live in Sunnyside, one of Calgary’s oldest neighbourhoods, so when Avenue magazine asked me to write a piece for them on how to make an old neighbourhood new again, I was absolutely delighted. The piece, How redeveloping a neighbourhood strengths community, appears in the September 2012 issue of Avenue, and its various sidebars and additions are here, under the title of The Rewards and Challenges of Redeveloping Calgary Communities.

My favourite excerpt:

Inner-city communities come with decades of baggage — be they Mission’s Painted Ladies, Inglewood’s industrial heritage or the legacy of Sunnyside’s basement suites. And, as van Wegen stresses, it’s usually some aspect of that baggage — or history, to use a less-loaded word — that makes them desirable, attracts new residents and promises to make money for savvy developers. “It’s a much more interesting challenge to retrofit an existing community and to build upon something that has some layers of character,” says van Wegen. “A community isn’t built from scratch, it’s built over time.”

I enjoyed researching and writing this piece immensely, chiefly because it allowed me to talk to Calgarians as passionate about inner city living as I am.

Among these eloquent and passionate Calgarians were Bob Lang, president of the Cliff Bungalow/Mission Community association, as well as CBMCA’s Marilyn Williams and Rick Williams, the fascinating Bob van Wegen from the Federation of Calgary Community, Sunnyside resident, humanist and activist Gerald Wheatley, Councillors Druh Farrell and Gian-Carlo Carra, Mark Stout, director of planning with the Bridgeland/Riverside Community Association, Inglewood Community Association’s Ray Spiteri, and the City of Calgary’s Nicole de Peuter and Thom Mahler.