Home of the Calgary Stampede rodeo, which dates back more than 100 years, the west Canadian city rides high in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s liveability ranking. Not least among its attractions are the opportunities for winter sports enthusiasts.
Leading quality of life
Named the world’s fourth most liveable city — and top for North America — by the Economist Intelligence Unit this year, Calgary scored full marks for stability, healthcare, education and infrastructure. The quality of its international links was among the criteria in the last category; Calgary has direct flights to the rest of Canada and international destinations including New York, Los Angeles, London, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Beijing and Tokyo.
Situated in the province of Alberta, a three-hour drive south of its capital Edmonton, Calgary is 90 minutes by car from Banff National Park. Part of the Canadian Rocky Mountains Parks Unesco World Heritage Site, this scenic expanse has three ski resorts and more than 1,600km of maintained trails for hiking.
Calgarians don’t need to leave town to hit the slopes. WinSport’s Canada Olympic Park, which hosted the Winter Olympics in 1988, offers activities including skiing, snowboarding, bobsleighing and ice skating.
The city also maintains seven outdoor ice-skating rinks, typically open between mid-December and February, and more than 20 hills for seasonal tobogganing and sledding. Its municipal parks welcome cross-country skiing and snowshoeing; the 30-hectare Bowness Park is one of several that offer maintained cross-country tracks when there is sufficient snow.
Follow the trails
Residents need no excuse to put on their in-line skates or go for a bike ride, walk or run. With more than 900km of routes across the city, Calgary has North America’s most extensive urban pathway and bikeway network. The recently completed C$50m ($38m) Rotary/Mattamy Greenway is a 138km loop around the city. It connects 55 communities and passes through green spaces such as the 12-hectare Baker Park, on the opposite bank of the Bow river to the larger Bowness Park.
Open for business
The city focuses on work as well as play. The hub of Canada’s energy industry, Calgary lays claim to both the country’s highest concentration of head offices and GDP per capita. It is encouraging investment with C$100m of funding open to innovative private companies, non-profits and public institutions that create economic benefits and jobs in the city.
There are other financial incentives for Calgarians, too: Alberta is the only Canadian province not to levy a sales tax and has lower personal tax rates (the highest rate is 15 per cent) than some other provinces.
Photographs: Getty Images/iStockphoto; Dreamstime; Alamy