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Calgary’s High Park adds three halfcourt basketball areas

Phase 3 included the new courts, added turf, fireside seating and some graffiti murals along the courtside.

Downtown Calgary’s got a new place to shoot some hoops and it’s the highest set of halfcourts in the city.

High Park Phase 3 (340 – 10 Avenue SW) opened up Thursday, just in time for the Easter long weekend and great weather in the forecast.

There are three halfcourt setups, partitioned by large concrete blocks and netting around them, and high-end hoops to meet the demand of today’s ballers. Plus, there are courtside bleachers for the fans.

The project, funded through the Prairies Economic Development Canada, was a $200,000 endeavour.

Along with the court additions, Peter Oliver with the Beltline Neighbourhoods Association said they’ve added additional turf areas, fireside lounge seating on the upper area, new graffiti murals and illuminated wayfinding signage.

It’s much-needed recreation for a growing number of residents, Oliver said.

“There are limited spaces in the downtown and especially in this area,” he said.

“We’ve done studies – it’s coming in the new Beltline ARP – it’s really important if we want to attract more people downtown into the Beltline to live and even to visit that there are spaces like this to come and be active and have some fun.”

The courts are open to the public from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week. They will be opening up the area to different events throughout the year.

Having this kind of equipment and, in particular, the blocks, meant a bureaucratic process to see the project to fruition, Oliver said.

“We’ve had to work with engineers and the City of Calgary every step of the way to make sure that we’re still using a parkade structure in a way that’s safe,” he said.

“It’s just a whole bunch of extra process that you wouldn’t otherwise have to do on just a surface parking lot anywhere.”

Few open-air basketball spaces in Calgary

Ward 8 Coun. Courtney Walcott was out testing his three-ball on the new courts Thursday morning.

He said the new High Park Phase 3 is a welcome addition to the ward – particularly having outdoor recreation spaces like these.

“We’ve got a lot of (courts) in recreation centers, there’s some in schools, of course, but when it just comes down to wanting to go to a park, and play basketball, I’ve actually always had a hard time finding one,” Coun. Walcott said.

The downtown is changing, Walcott said. More residents are coming to live downtown; he pointed to where two buildings are being constructed.

“They’re going to be able to look out over some action every single day and see what’s going on here as we build it out over time,” he said.

“That is so important for me to be able to see these spaces develop and grow.”

Walcott also commented on the challenge of trudging through the bureaucracy to get projects like this done. He said there are a lot of rules, and things are built for a purpose.

“Historically, we didn’t always build things so that they could change,” he said.

He said projects like High Park are vanguards for people trying creative things in spaces initially built for something else. It’ll break the mold for future projects, Walcott said.

“Every single time you do something, you realize you can do it, the next person all of a sudden asks themselves, what can they do next,” he said.

“That’s an important change.”

Oliver said Phase 4 is planned for High Park.  It may even be rolled out this summer. In the meantime, they have some finishing touches for the courts. They want to paint the court areas and add lines for users.