Tour teaches students about urban planning

Last week University of Calgary students had the chance to go on a guided tour of one Calgary’s most innovative communities: Garrison Woods.

This was the first of several tours the Urban Calgary Students’ Association is putting on this month. The students were guided by one of Garrison Wood’s planners and Ken Toews, Urban Development Advisors Inc. president.

The unique community was designed with the goal of creating streets conducive to interaction between community members.

“How we live and where we live has a huge impact,” said Toews. “People are a bit starved for socialization by phones and the Internet. If we can set up communities so that people can socialize, it causes a huge impact.”

There is a massive demand for new developments like Garrison Woods. House values in the innovative community have increased by 300 per cent in the 10 years since opening.

“There is demand for communities like this, but developers are not making them,” said Toews.

The amount of green space is a strong selling point for Garrison Woods, he said. There are many parks and walking trails for pedestrians to enjoy, providing access to nearby stores.

“People like activity, the whole idea of providing more options is so people are closer to transit, work and downtown,” said Toews.

“It is really critical [that] students know about how development works,” he said. “They can understand where people want to live.”

Students were able to ask questions both during the tour and after when they sat down with Toews at a coffee shop, were there was discussion about many other urban issues.

“[Students] get to see a different side of Calgary,” said Andrew Sedor, Urban CSA vice-president external affairs. “People think of Calgary as a big suburb — [students] get to see that Calgary is changing.

“This was a very unique case were the [city] had a large piece of land to develop, they needed to set the foundations,” said Sedor.

The Urban CSA tour will be Wed, Oct. 21, through the Victoria Crossing business revitalization zone.

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