Battle of the Burbs: The South chooses its champ

The smallest community left in the Battle of the Burbs competition has big aspirations as it takes on Calgary’s original lake community.

At stake, the privilege to represent the south as CBC Calgary’s contest heads into the finale. 

Oakridge knocked out Discovery Ridge to make it here, while Lake Bonavista has systematically run through the southeast’s bracket, leaving newer lake communities in its wake. 

‘Oakridge is right next to the reservoir, which allows for lots of biking, hiking and exploring the outdoors with the pup!’ says Amber Robertson. ‘We also have some of the best local restaurants — all within walking distance.’ (Amber Norrish)

Oakridge resident Salima Dowhopoluk moved to the neighbourhood in 2008. Before buying her house, didn’t even know it existed. 

But once she settled in, the close feel of the community kept her there. 

Everybody in Oakridge bands together.– Salima Dowhopoluk

“It’s just ridiculous how close it is. It’s not one of those communities where you drive into your garage and no one talks to each other,” said Dowhopoluk. “Everybody in Oakridge bands together. No matter what is going on, it could be something in the community garden, or a family who needs help, people will come and donate or do whatever is needed.”

At just under 6,000 people, Oakridge will need every vote it can muster to beat Lake Bonavista, which has knocked out stronger contenders Mahogany and Chaparral. 

Nestled south of the Glenmore Reservoir, Oakridge’s population is older than the average Calgary community, but Dowhopoluk says it’s starting to turn over in recent years as families come back.

“There is just so much in this little community; it’s incredible,” she said. 

Looking to end Oakridge’s run is Lake Bonavista. It’s nearly twice the size and has the added lure of being the first community with its own lake in Calgary. 

‘Lake Bonavista is the best because of the friendly neighborhood and access to Fish Creek Park, where we can bike ride and see all sorts of wild life,’ says Steven Jagusch. ‘We have a great lake with tons of amenities that make every season enjoyable!’ (Janene Dipiano)

And according to 10-year resident Jilene Sauve, it’s the best neighbourhood in the city. 

Wide streets, mature streets, larger lots, larger homes and then the lake is awesome.– Jilene Sauve

“Wide streets, mature streets, larger lots, larger homes and then the lake is awesome,” she said. “I met most of my friends in the area when I walk my dog, and we have a group that goes now all the time, and it just kind of happened organically. It wasn’t forced.”

The community is home to some unique statistical anomalies, according to the city’s latest census profile. There are 11 per cent more married people in Lake Bonavista than the average Calgary neighbourhood, and only five per cent of households primarily speak a language other than English, compared with 25 per cent elsewhere in the city.

Located just east of Macleod Trail, it’s one of Calgary’s older and more recognizable suburbs, developed almost entirely before 1980. 

People outside the neighbourhood are fans of it, said Sauve, and she’s ready to win.

“I think [Lake] Bonavista has way more to offer than Oakridge; no offence to anyone who lives in Oakridge,” she said with a laugh.

Once the south is settled, there is one last duel before we know Calgary’s best suburb, with all the details found here.

With files from Nathan Godfrey 

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