Calgary Parks: Innovation 100 Years in the Making

When one imagines innovation they conjure new, contemporary, cutting-edge ideas. It’s rare that they think of 100-year-old parks and gardens. But Calgary Parks has changed that. In 2013 Calgary City Council passed the Cultural Landscape Policy, partially in response to the successful restorations of two of Calgary’s most beloved historic parks – Reader Rock Garden and Central Memorial Park.
 
The Cultural Landscape Policy recognizes the value of the history of the landscape and establishes strategies and best practices to conserve and celebrate that history. Both Reader Rock Garden and Central Memorial Park date from the early 1910s. One is considered an exemplary example of an Edwardian era Arts and Craft Rockery and the other an example of an intricate carpet bed design, inspired by the Victorian era. When Calgary Parks redeveloped these sites, they strictly followed the Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada to ensure the historic significance of the sites would be conserved for future generations to experience. This was considered an innovative approach, as often historic resource conservation prioritizes buildings.
 
In late 2017 and early 2018, this approach lead to both sites being designated National Historic Sites by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada. Calgary Parks considers this quite an honour and is excited to start sharing the history of these parks with Canadians and visitors to Canada.