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Category: suburbs don’t have to suck

My New Neighborhood

My New Neighborhood

As I’ve mentioned before, my past six months have been absorbed with house hunting and moving. Our new neighborhood is next-door to our old one, still in the southwestern suburbs of the city; we wanted to keep the kids in the same school, and we like the area’s New Urbanist plan, which really does work as intended to make the subdivisions more walkable/bikeable (well, when the streets aren’t covered in snow, anyway). 
So why move? We needed a floor plan that works better for our family; much as we loved our old house, our needs have changed since we bought it (before kids), and we really wanted a home with all the bedrooms on the same floor and the kitchen and living room overlooking the back yard. The house we bought has good bones, a big yard for gardening, and good solar exposure. As we have time and resources, we’ll be making lots of changes to the new house that allow us to live more sustainably, which will be an ongoing topic on my other blogToday’s post has more to do with showing how our new location will still make it possible, with some diligence and work, to live car-light here and to model an active outdoor lifestyle for our kids.
When I spent some time with Google Maps, I found that our new house is: 

  • 2.0km from the kids’ school (25min walking or 8 min cycling for an adult), 
  • easy cycling distance from the cluster of shopping strips (1.7km to the Save-On Foods)
  • 2.4km from the new rec centre (and the weekly farmers’ market!),  
  • 3.0km from the new big-box area with proposed pedestrian-friendly ‘main street’ that’s being built on the other side of the Henday ring road (10 min cycling), and
  • 750m from a shopping strip that will include a yoga studio and a restaurant (2 min cycling), that includes a drug store with a convenience grocery section.
Yes, there is a bike rack already at the drug store. Planning fail on not bringing a longer lock or a reuseable bag.

Public transit is decent; currently my husband drives ten minutes or so, then parks and takes a 20 minute LRT ride downtown for work. I’m planning to work from home. The kids will be able to take a school bus to school, as well. 

So the current walk score of 10 (eep!) and transit score of 32 don’t tell the whole story of what it will be like to live here in a couple of years once all the local amenities have been built. I think living car-light will be completely doable for us in this location.

One of the other big attractions of our new area is its proximity to the Whitemud Creek ravine for recreational walking and cycling. Our house is only 100 ft from the trailhead for a network of recreational trails along the top of the wildlife sanctuary that I’m enjoying exploring with my kids. Here are a few photos:
a paved multiuse path winds along the perimeter of the neighborhood at the top edge of the ravine,
with signage that shows a map of the main trails
and photos of the wildlife that live in the nature sanctuary along the creekbed,
and lots of inviting side trails to explore on foot.
(This one leads to a handbuilt child-size bench with a view of the creek below.)
Where the paved MUP crosses into the wildlife sanctuary, there is a broad meadow and a sign on the fence.
You can really tell here that this part of the area used to be farmland.
Where the paved path currently ends, there is a former farm driveway that connects to the MUP at the other end of the ravine, beside the uber-eco Larch Park development, so we think this will be paved at some point as well,
but there is also a well-worn footpath that leads down through the forest to the meandering creek.
There are lots of trails like these, much better suited for walking than cycling, including the abandoned piece of 142nd Street that leads down to the power line right-of-way and a path alongside the creek under the Henday to the other side, and a steep downhill path edged by caragana bushes that leads to a former coal mine (no, we haven’t found a shaft, just slag heaps). There’s all kinds of wildlife living in the ravine, too; so far my kids have seen a beaver, a coyote, and several species of birds while exploring these trails with their dad. I haven’t been quite so lucky yet.