Lois Szabo Commons officially opens in the Beltline
Today, The City of Calgary officially opened Lois Szabo Commons (936 16 Ave. S.W.), a vibrant new park in the Beltline where residents can gather, socialize, relax and unwind. The Park is named to commemorate Lois Szabo, an important early leader in Calgary’s LGBTQ2S+ community.
Lois Szabo is one of the founders of Calgary's first gay club, Club Carousel, which opened in 1970. Lois not only publically signed the club’s incorporation papers at a time when few others dared to take such a risk, she also volunteered her time there helping organize social events that acted as a beacon for connection and social change for LGBTQ2S+ people in Calgary, paving the way for similar organizations in Edmonton, Saskatoon, Regina, and Winnipeg.
“I’ve long been an advocate for naming our spaces after community builders and heroes, especially women, and Lois Szabo certainly fits the bill,” said Mayor Naheed Nenshi. “She was courageous during a time when many didn’t accept LGBTQ2S+. Lois created a safe space for community and for political activism that would shape the Calgary we are today.”
Ms. Szabo, who attended the park opening today, said that she is grateful for this honour and sees the park’s name as a victory for the LGBTQ2S+ community. “I am so pleased that the LGBTQ2S+ community is being recognized through my name,” said Ms. Szabo. “From Club Carousel and the dark alleys and dingy basement dives, we now enjoy more freedoms to be ourselves. This has been a long journey.”
The new park creates urban vitality where additional leisure spaces are urgently needed. “Parks and open spaces are critical to the success of a neighbourhood and in the Beltline, where many people live in higher density buildings, parks become their backyard,” said Kyle Ripley, Director, Calgary Parks. “We need to seize the opportunities that are available to create parks like this, which will provide spaces for Calgarians living in the area to connect.”
In developing the park, The City engaged local residents to find out what mattered to them when visiting a park. The community identified that they would like to see a curved gathering area, flexible seating options and a playful feature in the space. In response to their feedback, the new park includes a curved space for gatherings or performances, lots of seating options for visiting with friends and family, and a concrete ping pong table. The design also features an open layout and lighting that focuses on ambiance but creates a high level of visibility and safety throughout the site into the evening.
Lois Szabo Commons is now open to all daily from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m.