Lively new public spaces and acres of green in Cochrane will expand nature beyond the popular parkland along the Bow River thanks to an ambitious landscaping plan in the works that will transform a former gravel pit into a brand new community complete with 35 acres of park and public space for everyone to enjoy.
The project will serve to energize nature lovers and adventure-seekers alike. When complete, Greystone will achieve a “green” standard that is above and beyond town requirements, with 12.5% of the area landscaped over the requisite 10%.
35 acres of park and public space
The plan includes a 10-acre regional park for sports and more, plus a hardscape urban plaza with a pond feature linking the high street and a regional pathway. When complete, a whopping 35 out of the total 150 acres of Greystone will be freshly landscaped and open to every outdoorsy person who can walk, bike or drive to the amenities.
“The investment in greening up this space will add a lush centre of activity to Cochrane near the river. Plus park amenities will attract pedestrians and provide places for community connections that are meant to add to the experience of living in Greystone,” said Launie Burrows, landscape architect at LA West Inc. who presided over the landscape design on behalf of the developer of Greystone.
“Something that the pandemic taught us, was to put a high value on our health and connection – and we’re proud to create both abundantly,” said Burrows.
“Open spaces for flying kites, kicking a ball around, or kids play spaces. Anywhere people can get out close to home and get moving is an important part of a community,” he said.The area will undergo a jaw-dropping transformation. What was once a dusty, industrial mining pit will be a vibrant residential haven beside the beautiful Bow River and adjacent to the 325,000 sq. ft Spray Lake Sawmills Centre. Greystone is the place to be for active, young families who want to find better health, connection, and adventure steps away.
Talk of the town
The design of a reflective pond with a fountain was intended to naturally filter and repurpose stormwater while it also serves as a backdrop to an urban plaza space that will become the talk of the town. This special spot will serve as a vibrant gathering place complete with local shops for neighbours to enjoy a cup of coffee, chat, and soak in the community spirit.
The pond will become a safe space for birds while it supports a small ecosystem of shrubs and plants around the perimeter. Observation areas will overlook the pond, and the hardscaped plaza includes outdoor seating and gathering areas where live musicians can play. The bustling area will create an opportunity for people-watching and shared experiences for all walks of life.
“Imagine strolling through the park, surrounded by lush greenery, while live music fills the air,” suggests Burrows.
From the plaza, a link to the nearby high street puts an additional array of shops in reach by foot for a pedestrian-friendly experience.
10-acre park the heart of the community
The magnificent 10-acre regional park will serve as the heart of the community, said Josh Hagen, vice president of development at Burnswest Properties Ltd., the landowner, and developer of Greystone.
As the largest of its park spaces, this section of the community plan will become a popular meeting spot for locals, and become an official venue for arts, sports, and festivals. Its parking lot will serve residents arriving from outside of Greystone and add to the number of spots that serve the rec centre.
Outstanding new facilities for informal or booked sports events include full-size baseball diamonds, a proposal for twenty pickleball courts, basketball and tennis courts, public washroom facilities, seating and picnic areas. Outdoor recreation for all seasons can also be found in a planned toboggan hill and public outdoor rinks. Little ones will jump for joy for a half-acre playground and structure.
Every home a 5-minute walk to parks
A variety of themed play structures will also be found throughout Greystone in “neighbourhood nodes.” Each residence will be no more than a five-minute walk from a unique play experience, where kids can discover new ways to spend their energy while they make new friends.
Paths throughout the community will feature interpretive stations to spark curiosity and guide and educate passers-by. Ambitious cyclists will also soon discover a direct connection from Cochrane to Calgary, using pedal power on a future pathway expansion project that will bring them from river trails in Greystone through Treaty Seven Territory, linking Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park to the Rotary/Mattamy Greenway Trail in Calgary.
Handy commercial retail spaces, a hotel, and a new Coop grocery store will round out service options within walking distance to everything.
Exceeds standards for green area
The exceptional landscape design is meant to elevate the living experience for residents and inspire connection while stitching into the natural beauty already running through the heart of Cochrane in the Bow River valley.
“It adds value to the community, and adds value to your home,” said Hagen.
Mental health breaks
Outdoor space unfused with nature and thriving plant life will also provide a breath of fresh air for daily “mental health breaks” he added. The design team deployed creativity to bring greenery in multiple ways way via grassy open areas, focal point plantings, entry features, and tree-lined boulevards that will grow to create shade, dramatically arching a canopy of leafy branches over inviting walkways.
Two sidewalks are better than one
Additionally, sidewalks will line both sides of the street (it’s common for new communities to construct sidewalks on only one side) so that every homeowner will be “fully connected,” he said.
“Active families want to do a lot of walking, and we understood it's an important way of life,” said Hagen.
Design provokes exploring and connecting
According to urban planning theory, an optimal design can improve the quality of life for people if it increases their chances of interacting with neighbours, exploring nature, or walking to destinations Burrows explained.
“Greystone will provide an abundance of space where people can experience a high-quality destination that will mature and blend into both the natural landscape and beautiful new amenity areas,” Burrows said.