Coventry Hills is getting a makeover starting this summer

On August 9, 2018 by Rebecca Dakin

Creating Coventry “Backyard Dream” engagement event at Vivo

By Rizwana Shaikh, Federation of Calgary Communities

The Northern Hills Community Association (NHCA) refuse to let a lack of funding stop them from giving their residents what they want in their green spaces.

When Calgary Parks surveyed their playgrounds in 2016, it turned out too many needed replacing and there wasn’t enough room in the Parks budget to accomplish that. There were at least four playgrounds in Coventry Hills and one in Harvest Hills, that were flagged, and after a closer look, it turned out all 14 Coventry Hills parks would soon need help.

Moraig McCabe, the executive director of NHCA at the time, decided to engage her community’s residents by putting a call out for help. The initial feedback resulted in the creation of the Harvest Hills Hub, which will be an outdoor social area more inclusive of all age groups, rather than a simple toddler playground. The hub is expected to be completed this summer.

“The Harvest Hills Hub was a major undertaking, and I thought, ‘I can’t do this, 14 times,’” says McCabe.

She decided to combine all 14 parks in Coventry Hills into one big project and “Creating Coventry” was born. A collaboration with Vivo, kick started the project with gathering data and more information on the park spaces. Numerous consultation with residents were held where people gave feedback on what they want in their parks and more importantly why they want it. Aside from redoing their green spaces, NHCA realized some of their parks were hidden and difficult to find and would need to be connected into the community.

Creating Coventry teen specific engagement event

“It’s a really exciting project,” McCabe says, “I’m proud that we actually managed to get residents out and get them involved,” she adds.

The first park in Coventry Hills that will be renovated is the Roundabout park, which will feature a basketball court that can convert into an ice rink for year-round use. Some work for the basketball court is hoped to begin this summer.

Creating Coventry is a long-term plan which will be sectioned into four-year slots to efficiently complete the parks and pathways. All 14 parks will feature different types of activities, including community benches, natural playgrounds, dog parks, basketball courts, and many more.

“If people want it badly enough, we can make it happen,” McCabe says.

She believes the easiest way to engage residents is to go to where they are, rather than asking them to come out and participate. It creates a wider awareness and gathers more ideas, which ultimately improves any project.

Nicole Dawe from Vivo says they created a guide with a breakdown of steps that other communities can use for their own community planning.

“We really tried to document what we did along the way and were able to share it with others,” says Dawe.

Creating Coventry event on Family Day

She is proud to be able to create new connections between organizations and the community and assist in the planning phases of the project.

It only takes a few community volunteers to show others that even if something is hard, dedication and teamwork can accomplish the task, and McCabe truly showed that to Northern Hills residents. People are now excited to help create their community’s green spaces.

“Overall, the goal is to give residents what they want but at the same time make it cheaper to maintain for the City,” says McCabe.

The next step in Creating Coventry is to activate their current park spaces with eight different events on every Saturday this summer. These events will feature pool parties, outdoor crafts, and a ton of family fun.

*Photos provided by Northern Hills Community Association