There’s nothing quite like one particular piece of land tucked away in northwest Calgary. What has become known as the “Hawkwood Farm” is a 43-acre parcel of rolling farmland located in the community of Arbour lake, surrounded by Arbour Lake Drive.
Over the years the city has grown around the old farmhouse and property, but now there are plans to build nearly 900 homes on it, which isn’t sitting well with some people who live in the area.
“This is unique because it’s raw land,” said Ray Sargent, who lives in the area. “It’s never been tilled, never been touched. I suppose they had cattle roaming on it and the old fences are still there.
“It would be a shame to see that heritage go away. Let’s use it for the people rather than for yet more housing.”
The land, which is named for the original owners John and Joseph Hawkwood, has sat undisturbed for years. Hopewell Residential now owns it and held an open house on April 10 to get public input on the project. The new development would be a mix of condos and houses and would be home to 2,200 people.
“We are in the very early stages,” said Scott Hamilton, marketing director with Hopewell Residential. “We have a concept plan that has been circulated and we’ve had some great initial feedback in terms of an open house with the residents in the area. We are now in the phase of information gathering. We want to gain insight from the community on the plan.”
Hopewell plans to include a four-acre green space at the centre of the new neighbourhood.
“Ultimately, the plan proposes that those wetlands be moved and that the new storm water facility would be the central sort of wetland area,” Hamilton said. “So we’re working with the City of Calgary and Alberta Parks as well to determine the best way to move forward with being sensitive to environmental concerns in the area.”
From her Arbour Lake condo, Margo Fraser watches red tailed hawks, deer and coyotes all living on the old farm.
“I feel pretty fortunate to have been able to just be here and watch. I think we’ve lost a lot of that. Just sitting and watching nature and being with it, and how important that is to our psychological effects,” Fraser said.
She would like special care taken with the wetlands that are on the property.
“I’d rather see that kept as pristine. I know it’s difficult when it’s private land to make those decisions, but I also think that we have to raise our consciousness a bit. We’re not just owners of the land we are guardians of the land,” Fraser said.
Some area residents say the city should step in to preserve the land, hoping it would be similar to Nose Hill Park.
“It is something that we as a city want to hang onto as a heritage for the next generations because there’s no more land like that in this kind of proximity,” said Sargent.
The proposed neighbourhood would include condos up to six storeys in height. The land still needs to be rezoned. The developer plans to start construction by September 2018.