Sheila Margaret Bowker cared about about people and her community. Bowker worked in long-term care facilities, and contributed her energy to Parkdale Cromdale Community League activities. Sadly, she died at the early age of 48 on July 1, 2004. The park and playground by the community league was named in her memory.

Sheila Bowker Park is “just in the very beginning stages of basically a redevelopment of both the park and the playground,” stated Steven Townsend, vice-president of Parkdale Cromdale Community League. “Initially, there was an assessment by the City of Edmonton, which gave it a fair assessment,” continued Townsend. This made the park eligible for development and the City met with the community for their input.

Sam and Maiara at the Sheila Bowker Park playground. | Chantal Figeat

The league hopes to create a unique park and playground design. “We want to think outside the box,” said Townsend. “We really want to include a lot of art.” A true reflection of the community will be achieved by “looking at ideas from all over the world.”

In her highly influential book on urban planning, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, author Jane Jacobs strongly supported neighbourhood diversity for healthy communities.

Writing specifically about urban parks, Jacobs compared the success of parks in the northeastern United States. Her comparison showed that “only a genuine content of economic and social diversity, resulting in people with different schedules, has meaning to the park and the power to confer life on it.”

Sheila Bowker Park was named in honour of Bowker’s dedication to her community. | Chantal Figeat

As a core mature community, Parkdale Cromdale already has the advantage of existing diversity. Longtime residents live alongside young families. Modest older homes with different architectural designs brings more variety to the area.

Sarah Delano, a local resident, said, “The plan is to make the Sheila Bowker space as inclusive as possible, for it to be a community space that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and walks of life.”  She continued, “Our vision is that it be representative of the diversity and creativity of our neighbourhood.” If these goals are achieved, the park will be a valuable asset which breathes life into the surrounding community.

A strong community needs appropriate hubs where people can gather and connect. Sheila Bowker Park, said Delano, “will hopefully be a space for us to gather as a community, to interact with the natural world and with each other. To converse, play, relax, learn, and create.”

Residents are encouraged to participate.

Townsend added, “We need more volunteers to get involved with our community and share their ideas.”

For more information on the Sheila Bowker Park redevelopment, call the Parkdale Cromdale Community League at 780.471.4410.  

Featured Image: Nearby residents of Sheila Bowker Park pose by the park sign. | Chantal Figeat