2017: Calgary's Top 10 Neighbourhoods

You answered the survey and we worked with Leger to crunch the numbers. These are the top 10 neighbourhoods in Calgary in 2017 based on those survey results.

For 2018 Best Neighbourhoods Rankings go here


Each year since 2010, Avenue has worked with Leger, a research and marketing company, to run a survey that gets to the heart of the question: What are Calgary’s best neighbourhoods to live in? 

Rather than simply voting for their favourite neighbourhood, survey respondents consider various characteristics and tell us which ones are most important when they think about a good neighbourhood. Are parks and pathways preferable to bars and boutiques, for example? Is it more important to have access to major roads than access to schools? Is proximity to a public library preferable to proximity to a movie theatre? 

Each year we tweak the survey for clarity and to respond to the previous year’s results, eliminating characteristics that were deemed unimportant to most and trying new questions. We also update the quantitative data that Leger uses to compare each neighbourhood once we know how important each characteristic is. 

This year, we did a total data overhaul and that caused a few exciting changes in the results. 

With the launch of the City of Calgary’s Open Data Portal in late 2016, we had access to more detailed and more accurate information than ever before. What changed the most this year was how we counted parks. Previously, we simply counted how many green spaces were in each neighbourhood. Using the City’s open data, we could include information on the actual amount of park space — the more hectares a park is, the more points we allocated to it. This change caused some big movements in the rankings. Varsity moved from 47th overall in 2016 to first and Edgemont moved from 70th in 2016 to third. 

In many other ways, the results are similar to what we have found in the past. This year, Calgarians’ top-five most important neighbourhood characteristics were access to parks and pathways, low crime, walkability, access to restaurants, cafés and pubs, and high community engagement. In 2016, parks and pathways, low crime and access to restaurants were also among the top five. 

It’s important to note that the best neighbourhoods in Calgary, as determined by this survey, aren’t necessarily going to be the best for every Calgarian in the city. Different people value — and need — different things. Fortunately, each neighbourhood offers something that makes it the best to someone and there is a neighbourhood that offers the best for each of us. —K.O. 



1. Varsity

photograph by jared sych


This year’s overall Best Neighbourhood sits in that sweet spot where you get all the best parts of being both old and new. Seniors aging in place in modest bungalows share calm streets lined with mature trees with energetic young families in new builds, creating a nice, welcoming mix.

The neighbourhood also occupies a sweet spot in terms of getting around. Located just west of the University of Calgary, residents get the benefit of both a reasonable commute to downtown (either by vehicle or via the C-Train from the Brentwood and Dalhousie stations on Varsity’s eastern edge) and an easy escape to the Rockies.

The banks of the Bow River beckon to the south, while Market Mall provides a convenient hub of shopping amenities within the community, everything from fun and frivolous boutiques to a full-sized Safeway grocery store.

Varsity’s streets and pathways are conducive to walking around, yet the neighbourhood’s expansiveness means you never feel fenced-in — even the actual fenced-in residential lots are spacious and comfortable-feeling. Plentiful park space and recreation facilities, including the scenic Silver Springs Golf and Country Club on the banks of the Bow, encourage active living in residents of all ages.

It’s a neighbourhood with a view, a river on one side and the C-Train on the other, wide-open sunny spaces and mature, shade-giving trees. It perfectly encapsulates what expat Calgarians dream about when they think about home, and it’s why Varsity deservedly owns the sporting chant of “we’re number one!” —S.A.





While it’s hard to find fault with Varsity, advocates for urban density would identify the relatively low number of people per square kilometre (1,855) as potential grounds for improvement. The proximity to the university and the neighbourhood’s conduciveness to a car-free lifestyle would make Varsity a prime candidate for secondary suites; however, as of January 2017 there were no approved secondary suites registered in the community.



2. Beltline

photograph by jared sych


The vibrant area south of the downtown core known as the Beltline is chock full of great restaurants, cool cocktail bars, packed pubs, bumpin’ nightclubs, boutiques and bookstores, coffeehouses, yoga studios, boxing studios and anything else a connected Calgarian would be tuned into. Tucked into the mix are charming urban parks and green spaces to chill out in, heritage monuments like the Memorial Park Library and Lougheed House to explore and admire, a handful of hip hotels and a variety of options for residents to do their grocery shopping and run drugstore errands. Plus, you can get your bike fixed, get your skis tuned and get yourself a nice bottle of wine, all within a few buzzing blocks. 

Sure, living in the heart of the action isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but for the many Calgarians seeking a vibrant scene (not to mention an easy walk, bike or skateboard ride to work), the Beltline brings it. —S.A.





It should come as a surprise to no one that a highly populated area with an active nightlife that draws crowds from outside the community will have problems with crime. The Beltline’s rate of 439 crimes per capita is this inner-city neighbourhood’s Achilles heel, putting it leagues above the 65 crimes per capita of top-ranked Varsity. 



3. Edgemont

photograph by jared sych


Nose Hill Park, the expansive prairie-grassland preserve in the city’s northwest, is a huge asset (literally) to the neighbourhoods nestled around its borders. It’s one of the key reasons why Edgemont, which tucks up against Nose Hill Park to the west, edged up into the top five this year. 

But Edgemont has more going for it than just its proximity to this favoured destination of cyclists, runners and owners of energetic dogs. The community association’s membership count of 780 exceeds that of top-ranked neighbourhood Varsity, and Edgemont also scores high in the area of community-supported projects. These, and other indicators of healthy community involvement, could be due to the fact that the neighbourhood is comprised primarily of single-family homes, with the majority of dwellings (86 per cent) occupied by the homeowners. That pride of ownership, in both home and community, is likely one of the reasons Edgemont can also claim a reassuringly low crime rate, well below any of its fellow top-five. —S.A.





Easy access to arteries such as John Laurie Boulevard and Shaganappi Trail is a boon for car commuters, but outside of that, the picture gets bleak. With strikingly low scores in both walkability and transit access, just over two per cent of Edgemont residents walk or bike to work. 



4. Brentwood

photograph by jared sych


Brentwood is a perennial strong finisher in the Best Neighbourhoods survey, which makes sense since it has many similar attributes to this year’s number-one, Varsity. Brentwood sits just across Crowchild Trail to the north of Varsity, positioning it to be walkable to the University of Calgary and just a zip of a commute downtown, either by car or C-Train from Brentwood station. Residents include a mix of old-timers and young families and everyone in between, with a vibrant university-student population, as well. 

A wealth of shopping amenities includes four grocery stores. There are also several community-fostering organizations within the neighbourhood, including a Calgary Public Library branch, a community garden and the well-used Brentwood Sportsplex, which is a hub for everything from figure-skating and hockey programs to Scrabble and bridge groups. All contribute to the sense that this is a neighbourhood that’s friendly, fun and comfortable in its skin. —S.A.





From the outside, Brentwood seems like the ideal community for aging in place; however, the lack of any nursing-home facilities means that long-time residents who might require this kind of care in their twilight years are forced to uproot. 



5. Signal Hill

photograph by jared sych


The west-end neighbourhood of Signal Hill is easily identified by the striking geoglyphs on the hillside at Battalion Park. The large-scale installation of whitewashed stones placed to create groupings of numbers serves as a memorial to the Albertan soldiers who fought in the First World War in battalions 137, 113, 151 and 51. This unique fusion of heritage and public art sets Signal Hill apart — as does the exceptional shopping at the base of the hill. Westhills Shopping Centre is practically a neighbourhood in its own right, with everything from a Real Canadian Superstore (with liquor store and gas bar) to a Cineplex Odeon multiplex. Among the vast array of retail options is arguably the city’s best Winners store, which contains a trove of high-end designer items at double-take prices. 

Bordered to the south by Highway 8, Signal Hill is also well positioned for getting out to the mountains, whether for biking in Bragg Creek in the summer or skiing at Nakiska in the winter. For these reasons, and more, it can proudly claim its spot in the top five. —S.A.





While Signal Hill has an admirable number of registered community members, the neighbourhood lacks a community centre, which hinders its community engagement. 



6. Huntington Hills

photograph by jared sych


Nestled between Nose Hill Park and Deerfoot Trail, Huntington Hills scored among the top Calgary neighbourhoods for playgrounds, access to libraries and parks and pathways. It also ranked among the top 15 for recreation facilities, schools and grocery stores. Between its community centre and sportsplex — which offers a number of recreational programs such as curling, soccer and ringette — and its skateboard park, there’s always something happening in the Hills. —A.G.





7. Bridgeland/Riverside

As the home to great restaurants such as Shiki Menya, Tazza and Blue Star Diner, Bridgeland/Riverside has people talking (often with their mouths full). A wealth of amenities — including grocery and drug stores — as well as proximity to downtown make this inner-city community very walkable, and more than 20 per cent of commuters here opt to bike or walk to work. –A.G.





8. Arbour Lake

At the crossroads of Stoney Trail and Crowchild Trail, this northwest community is well situated for getting around the city and getting out to the mountains. But it’s what’s inside this neighbourhood that really counts, particularly the residents’ association members-only beach around the community’s eponymous lake. Not surprisingly, Arbour Lake also benefits from a high community-engagement score. —A.G.





9. Downtown Commercial Core

High walkability and easy access to public transit make living in the Downtown Commercial Core carefree for the car-free set. This urban area also brings an abundance of shops and restaurants to the table, as well as the theatrical and musical happenings at Arts Commons and the summer fountain-turned-winter skating rink at Olympic Plaza. —A.G.





10. Crescent Heights

Straddling Centre Street, just north of the Bow River, Crescent Heights benefits from being close to downtown, with the walkability and transit access that affords. A variety of amenities and good community engagement also helped this ’hood rise in the rankings. It’s also home to McHugh Bluff Park, which offers one of the most picturesque views of the city’s skyline. —A.G.




Learn more about the 2017 Best Neighbourhoods methodology.


This article appears in the August 2017 issue of Avenue Calgary. Subscribe here. 


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