Recent developments in the downtown neighbourhood of Inglewood are affecting the community-oriented atmosphere and storied history.
Calgary Ghost Tours founder, Johanna Lane, believes it stems from gentrification, a term referring to the redevelopment of neighbourhoods to fit the middle and upper class.
Lane, who has been operating the tour since 2006, first began noticing changes in the community when many “haunted spots” on her 90-minute tour started getting torn down.This is something she attributes to rising property costs in Inglewood.
“All the old houses are coming down. We’ve become gentrified and now a little lot is going for half a million for a teardown,” says Lane. “[Now] we’re getting big ‘moderns’ coming in that, they’re gorgeous, but they just don’t tie into the spirit of Inglewood.”
With her tour garnering upwards of 300 attendees on any given weekend, Lane says the loss of these historic parts are unfortunate due to the stories destroyed when the buildings are removed.
She says the distinct feeling of Inglewood, with its eclectic local atmosphere and unique inhabitants, may be threatened with the community changing.
“I think Inglewood’s like a small town in a big city,” Lane says. “There’s lots of neighbourhood involvement. We get lots of people that come out that are neighbours and they’ll talk to the tours and share their stories.”
Rebecca O’Brien is the executive director of the Inglewood Business Improvement Area (BIA).
She says that Inglewood has a “village-feel-and-form” to it, a sense shared by other communities in Calgary such as Bowness in the city’s northwest.
O’Brien says there has been outcry towards the new developmental initiative in the community, such as the relaxation of height-restrictions on buildings. Another pressing issue is the rising cost of rent for business tenants in the area, although she notes many local building owners have been quite generous.
“We’re very, very fortunate to have some fantastic landlords here,” says O’Brien. This includes the Kerr family, who own many of the historic properties and look after restoration.
In the end, though, it’s the community itself that O’Brien says makes Inglewood unique.
“Wherever one goes, you bump into people you know. Opinionated people, creative people, and it’s just got so much soul,” says O’Brien.
“It’s so normal for me to get a text on a Friday afternoon going: ‘Let’s go to High Line [Brewing]. Let’s meet at Cold Garden, grab a beer… and I take that for granted.”
- By Alec Warkentin