Fish Creek Provincial Park
|Fish Creek Provincial Park|
IUCN category VI (protected area with sustainable use of natural resources)
Fish Creek Park
|Area||13.48 km2 (5.20 sq mi)|
|Established||June 10, 1975|
|Governing body||Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation|
Fish Creek Park is a provincial park located in the southern part of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. It is one of the largest urban parks in North America, stretching 19 km (12 mi) from east to west. At 13.48 km2 (5.20 sq mi), it is over three times the size of Vancouver's Stanley Park.
The Bow River as well as the Fish Creek pass through the park, which used to span the width of the city but because of growth the city has surpassed the edges of the park.
A variety of paved and unpaved pedestrian and bicycle trails that connect the park to the city's extensive trail system allow visitors to access on-site day-camping facilities, stables, and a swimmable artificial lake. The park features 80 kilometres (50 mi) of trails, of which 30 kilometres (19 mi) are paved, and is home to a large variety of natural wildlife, including deer, coyotes, owls, and beavers.
The park features a number of different picnicking and forest areas. The most widely used section of the park is the beach at Sikome Lake where thousands of Calgarians visit each summer weekend. The lake is man-made and is drained during the winter months. A popular year-round attraction at the park is Bow Valley Ranch, which is used quite often for corporate and private functions. There is no admission fee to enter the different areas of the park.
As a result of the heavy rains and floods experienced by Alberta in June 2005, half of the park's trails were washed away, and the other half damaged. Seven pedestrian bridges over the Fish Creek were destroyed and seven others were rendered unsafe. The park officially reopened in September 2007 following the construction of new bridges and a redesigned pathway system.
The park's location and city growth in the south is also a constant irritant to city planners. Limited points exist to build roadway across the park. Three arteries (Deerfoot Trail/Highway 22X, Macleod Trail and 37th Street SW), plus a C-Train rapid transit line, exist to connect the southern portions of the city with the north. This results in frequent rush hour traffic delays as the traffic bottle necks. A long-proposed southwest extension of Sarcee Trail (roughly following the 37th Street alignment) is expected to alleviate these bottlenecks, as is the 2013 completion of the southeastern leg of the Stoney Trail freeway.
The park's trails and facilities see 3 million visitors a year and are patrolled by Conservation Officers designated under the Ministry of Tourism Parks and Recreation.