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Popular Nose Hill parking lot and viewing spot reopened to public

One of the city’s not–so–hidden gems has reopened for the public, and it didn’t take long for Calgarians to return.

The Nose Hill city overlook parking lot, located along 14 Street NW between Norquay Court to the south and North Haven Drive to the north, is one of the most popular spots in Northwest Calgary to view the city skyline.

“As soon as we opened it, we had cars come in and as our crews were moving to signs cars were coming in,” said James Papineau, a project manager for the City of Calgary.

The city made extensive upgrades to the parking lot over a period of several months. This resulted in what the city has said is a better experience for Nose Hill Park users.

This lot, and the lot on the East side of Nose Hill in Edgemont, are two of the busiest lots for Nose Hill Park visitors.

Widened parking areas at the Nose Hill lookout parking lot improved vehicle access to and from Nose Hill in Calgary. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

Putting in a parking lot to protect paradise

Papineau, the City of Calgary project manager responsible for the upgrades, is a big fan of Nose Hill.

“I adore that park so I’m super, super happy to do any projects within that park,” he said.

“And like every other project I have done in that park, the goal is to is to allow people better access to the park and we always look at how we can get people to enjoy the park,” he said.

He said that that the replacement of the old gravel road with a paved asphalt surface was better for visitors to Nose Hill.

The parking lot was widened by 1.5 metres. Angle parking was added to both the lower and upper portions of the lot.

“Up at the top parking lot, it was kind of an oddly shaped parking lot, and I don’t think when it was originally put in that it was planned and forecast to be so busy,” he said.

“But now their vehicles are able to back out of the stalls and they won’t get blocked in.”

Papineau said that this was accomplished by cutting into the hillside. This also provided the space needed for new mobility access upgrades.

Previously it had been difficult for Calgarians with mobility challenges to climb a steep dirt incline to make it to one of the pathways adjacent to the lot.

“While looking at the site we found that certain areas of the parking lot didn’t provide good access for all types of wheeled wheeled access, like strollers or wheelchairs,” he said.

A shallower grade asphalt path, topped with chip seal, now allows direct access from the parking lot to the pathways.

“It’s the gravel look that that we want, with the stability of the of the asphalt, so that it’s very easy for all to get up there with any type of wheeled mobility,” he said.

Drainage features were installed to prevent runoff reaching 14 Street and erosion from damaging Nose Hill and the parking lot in Calgary on Friday, November 12, 2021. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

Less need for repairs to 14 Street

The gravel road being replaced has led to less damage being done to 14 Street, and more savings for taxpayers.

As gravel got caught in the tires of vehicles driving along the old road, it would be ground into the surface of 14 Street, causing damage.

Making the entire lot paved meant the asphalt to asphalt connection at 14 Street would address the long term damage concerns.

Extensive water management upgrades were performed along the sides of the parking lot. These were done to prevent storm water runoff from reaching 14 Street.

“Because 14th Street is a quite a busy roadway we didn’t want to increase the amount of water on that road,” Papineau said.

Widened parking areas at the Nose Hill lookout parking lot improved vehicle access to and from Nose Hill in Calgary, pictured on Friday, November 12, 2021. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
New accessible pathways allowed for wheeled access to Nose Hill from the lookout parking lot, pictured on Friday, November 12, 2021. The surface was paved and then a top coat called chip seal was added to give it the natural gravel look. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

Calgary’s history reflected in design elements

Sandstone blocks were used to shore up retaining walls instead of the use of concrete. The blocks were sourced locally from a site in the Nose Creek Valley.

The sandstone use also reflected on the park’s history, as it was once used as a gravel quarry. The sandstone is from the same area of Calgary that once provided blocks for the Old City Hall.

“If you go further to the west of that parking lot you will see an older asphalt road that goes up the hill, that actually serviced the old gravel pit area,” said Papineau.

Benches and a picnic table will be installed the far end of the lot in December. They will be located to provide an almost unobstructed view over the city skyline from the far North end of the city to the downtown core.

A bank of fog rolled through the communities of Thorncliffe and Greenview, as seen from Nose Hill in Calgary on Monday, November 15, 2021. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY