Calgary Parks, Environmental Education Portfolio
Funding support: Municipal Government
Number of staff: 7
Number of visitors per year: 40,000
Overall aims of the centre
– Promote awareness of local and global environmental issues
– Provide individuals with relevant knowledge and skills
– Promote sustainable actions
– Allow individuals to reflect upon their personal environmental impact
Description of the centre
Ralph Klein Park is the first park to be named for a former mayor during his lifetime. Ralph Klein, a visionary and tireless advocate on behalf of Calgary and Alberta, served as Calgary's 32nd Mayor and Alberta's 12th Premier. The park is 30 hectares in size and serves as an island of the much larger 200 hectares that make up the man-made Shepard Wetland. This wetland is Canada’s largest engineered stormwater treatment wetland, which plays a significant role in maintaining the health of the Bow River Watershed.
The park is home to a 21,000 sq ft LEED Platinum Certified building that was created to bring citizens of all ages together to learn about their surrounding environment. This facility has been recognized as a project that has demonstrated commitment to sustainability by meeting high performance standards in environmental responsibility and energy efficiency.
The park includes a new adventure playground, orchard, green roof complete with gardens of native plants and flowers, walking trails, wetland viewing points, art installations by local and global artists, picnic and day use areas and naturalized green spaces. Inside the main facility are classrooms and meeting rooms which all have stunning views and unique access to the natural world outside. The newly redesigned public spaces within the facility were created to bring the wild aspects of the park indoors where visitors of all ages and backgrounds can learn about the environment and the fragile ecosystem on which the park is located.
Main CEPA work areas
Calgary Parks – Environmental Education staff delivers innovative, inquiry-based learning which help citizens recognize environmental issues, promote stewardship and sustainability, and provide citizens with the necessary tools to protect and improve their natural surroundings. In addition, they promote ecological literacy and action through critical analysis and reflection of local and global issues.
These learning opportunities enable citizens to understand their responsibility in the conservation of their natural surroundings. We look forward to the opportunity to continue assisting local and international citizens in doing their part to ensure the sustainability of the natural world for future generations.
Top three successes
Calgary Parks environmental education programs focus on engaging visitors in the natural world and allowing reflection on how human actions have an impact on the environment. Through providing knowledge and an appreciation for wetlands, we are creating a new generation of environmental stewards.
The natural playground (sponsored by TD Bank) opened in the summer of 2018. The playground allows children to creatively connect with the natural world through play.
Ralph Klein Park is a hub for sponsored wetland programming, including the Mud Between My Toes program (sponsored by ConocoPhillips Canada), and the Caring For Our Watersheds program (sponsored by Nutrien). These programs educate youth about the watershed, water conservation and stewardship and introduce students to the concepts of water conservation and project-based learning.
Top three challenges
Awareness – The park has seen an increase in visitors since the installation of the playground and new events such as Solstice in the Wetland (held in June).
Accessibility – As the park is not on a transit route, accessibility can be a challenge for citizens without access to a vehicle. The park is connected to regional pathways providing easy access for bicycles.
Our education programming continues to be a huge success. This is due to our action-based approached to learning. We find that individuals learn best when they are able to apply and reflect upon new knowledge and skills they develop in a particular area.
Signage; Indoor exhibitory; Online resources; Nature trails
Visitor centre operations; Natural Playground; Public Art; Pond Study Docks; Day Use Areas; Building / maintaining structures
Engaging visitors; Working with volunteers
Education and communication
Adult and youth education; Working primarily with schools and community organizations; Develop resources / programming for public education
Habitat and storm water management; Education; Park Activation & Events
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