Former Calgary city councillor and mayoral contender Jeromy Farkas has a new gig – not hiking, not climbing (and not politics), but still in the outdoors and helping raise money.
Farkas was named the Glenbow Park Ranch Foundation’s first-ever CEO and will be charged with continuing to build and expand the provincial park’s conservation footprint.
The Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park is a nearly 3,300-acre natural area and working ranch established in 2007 by the Harvie family, that’s sandwiched between the City of Calgary and the Town of Cochrane. Roughly 180,000 people visit the ranch annually.
“We are thrilled to welcome Jeromy as our first CEO,” said Georg Paffrath, Chair of the GRPF board, in a prepared media release.
“His leadership and energy come at a pivotal time as we welcome exponential growth in visitors to the Park, as we navigate challenging development and infrastructure issues, and we work to bring our world-class trails, education, and conservation programs to the next level.”
Farkas has now landed in a non-political role after losing the 2021 mayoral race by a healthy margin. After that loss, he helped Big Brothers Big Sisters of Calgary raise roughly $250,000 by doing a 4,500-kilometre hiking trek along the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada.
After that, the former Ward 11 rep took on 25 peaks in 25 days to help support the Alex Community Health Centre in Calgary.
“After losing the 2021 election, I felt lost in more ways than one. I found purpose, meaning, and belonging in the vastness of Alberta’s rolling hills, grasslands, and mountains,” Farkas said.
“Having traveled far and wide, I can tell you that this park, and what it represents, is special. It didn’t happen by accident. As stewards, we not only honour the past but build for the future. We are connecting people with nature and each other. There are very few opportunities like this in life, and I feel blessed to be part of it.”
Big plans for the park’s future
Farkas has an ambitious plan to significantly increase the park’s overall area.
To do that, he said the foundation is going to have to aggressively fundraise to acquire more of the adjacent properties.
Right now, the area has about 35 kilometres of trails and Farkas said they’d love to build another 50 kilometres. He envisions a connection into the Town of Cochrane and to the City of Calgary’s recently opened Haskayne Park, in which the Glenbow Park Ranch played a role in the final land acquisition to make that area accessible.
“If you’d asked me five years ago, whether I’d become like a nonprofit executive, charity CEO, I would have sort of laughed at you, thought you’re insane,” Farkas told LiveWire Calgary.
“But this is a real passion project of mine.”
With the expansion and the connection to Cochrane and the City of Calgary, Farkas expects they could see a five-fold increase in visitors over the next several years.
“How amazing is that, when, within a couple of years, you will be able to bike from Bowness, into Haskayne Park and then on to McKay’s,” he said.
This kind of work became a bit of a passion when he hiked along the Pacific Crest Trail. Farkas said he sort of felt bad that he knew more about part of the United States than his own home area. At one point, Farkas wanted to do the TransCanada Trail, but he said there were some missing links that made it troublesome. He said one of those links is in our own backyard.
“It’s so exciting to be a follow up some of the previous things that I was doing in a way that just really meshes together and I get to see sort of a physical dimension to what I’m doing,” Farkas said.