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Calgary’s Neighbour Day: Skate park opens in Bowness, YWCA opens in Inglewood

Global News with Sue Tomney 15 June 2019

Hundreds of Calgarians came together on Saturday to mark the sixth Neighbour Day in the city.

In Bowness, Neighbour Day 2019 will be remembered for the opening of the community’s new skatepark at 4324 77 St. N.W.

Some of the kids using the skatepark on Saturday were just babies when the 2013 floods devastated part of the northwest community. But for the people who jumped into action, helping neighbours out, memories are still vivid.

“It was like a war zone. It was rough,” said Mainstreet Bowness BIA executive director Jacqui Esler. “There were people everywhere and there were volunteers bringing food but there were also people everywhere walking around not sure what was going to happen to their homes.”

The park has been three and a half years in the making and according to the area councillor, it’s been welcomed by the community as a new gathering place. According to the city, municipal planners engaged the local Legion #238 and received their endorsement of the skatepark. The design of the skatepark is intended to complement the historic relevance of Queen Elizabeth Park and has design elements that honour veterans.

“The community association welcomed it,” Ward 1 Coun. Ward Sutherland said on Saturday.

“We picked this spot on purpose because it is street front. Everybody can see what’s going on,” Sutherland said. “It’s a very visible place so this is a big plus for everybody and it gives them an activity in some of the more mature areas where they don’t have the new sportsplex like Rocky Ridge. I’m so excited because this is great for Bowness. It gives kids something to do at night rather than hanging around in other places.”

In Inglewood, Neighbour Day was celebrated with tours of the new YWCA at 1715 17 Ave. S.E. The old downtown location was heavily damaged in the 2013 flood. The new facility features a fitness centre, a community kitchen and 100 transitional housing suites for people recovering from trauma.

“Our transitional housing is 100 units, each with their own ensuite, which are beautiful, bright, dignified spaces to help women who, as we say, are possibly coming to us on one of the worst days of their lives, to regroup and to heal and to help them move on with their lives,” said Sue Tomney, YWCA Calgary CEO.

While some Inglewood residents say they’ve struggled with parking and noise issues during the construction of the YW Hub, others say the $56-million facility is a welcome addition to the neighbourhood.

“It’s totally awesome,” said area resident Jennifer Sharp, who was taking part in a tour of the facility on Saturday. “I’m really excited to see the inside. It’s great supporting women in need. It’s great to have a facility like this here and we’re really excited.”

The YW Hub will provide women with counselling, employment and training opportunities, as well as 90 childcare spaces. It officially opens in September.