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Parks Foundation Calgary outdoor projects pop up in the city’s southeast

The first outdoor activities with the Parks Foundation Calgary grants are forming and some are just a-maze-ing.

In October, Calgary city councillor Druh Farrell put forward the idea of microgrants to spur projects that would get people outdoors over the winter months. By mid-December, Parks Foundation had built the grant program and was accepting applications.

Now, a nifty hay bale maze has been erected and is ready for use outside the Phoenix Foundation at 320 – 19 Street SE, so area residents can Embrace the Outdoors.

Larry Leach with Phoenix Foundation, a blended learning school, said they had staff members who live outside the city with access to hay. That made the project selection easy.

“We want people to get outdoors and do things,” said Leach.

“A lot of people are getting tired of just walking and to have a goal to get a walk and come to a maze and do all that stuff just adds a little more motivation to people to get out of the house and I think that during these times.”

There are 200 bales in the maze on the west side of the building. It’s stacked just one bale high so it’s safe and enjoyable for the whole family.

That was the goal of the program – getting people out to do interesting things.

“We really hope that communities would have creative ideas for enhancing public spaces in ways that would draw people outside,” said Parks Foundation CEO Sheila Taylor during the December rollout.

The maze is just part one of the activities

Leach said the Phoenix Foundation location got $4,000 of the maximum $4,500 grant for their projects.

Aside from the quick win with the hay bale maze – which is open for use (Jan. 8) – they’re also building a permanent music walls that can be used year-round by area residents.

It was inspired for the music wall that used to stand at the old Calgary Science Centre, Leach said. The wall will have simple instruments like different pipe lengths connected to it for people to play.

“That’s going to be a permanent structure and hopefully it will be there for years to come,” said Leach.

All of the projects rolled out are expected to have COVID-19 health protocols in place. There will be line management, signage and things like sanitizer.  All provincial public health rules are expected to be followed.

Leach said it was a quick way to give Mayland Heights area residents something more to do when they get outdoors.

“I would encourage so many organizations across the city to look at this grant and encourage them to help people motivate themselves to get out and to connect, with physical distancing, with their community members,” he said.