Community firepits come back to Calgary parks just in time for winter

·2 min read
A firepit in Riley Park, in the central Calgary neighbourhood of Hillhurst, last year. The city is again putting temporary firepits in parks around Calgary to encourage people to socialize safely outdoors. (Justin Pennell/CBC - image credit)
A firepit in Riley Park, in the central Calgary neighbourhood of Hillhurst, last year. The city is again putting temporary firepits in parks around Calgary to encourage people to socialize safely outdoors. (Justin Pennell/CBC - image credit)

The weather outside is getting frightful, but the city is hoping that bringing firepits back will make being outdoors in the colder months delightful.

The program was initially launched to give Calgarians somewhere safe to socialize during the cold COVID months — but it has taken off and will be a permanent fixture. Soon, 80 sites will be available for booking.

Between December 2020 and March 2021, the program had more than 2,000 bookings. The city's Laura Smith says the firepits were more popular in the winter months than over the summer.

"We are doing everything we can to motivate people to get outside a little bit more and embrace winter," said Smith. "This is one thing, one activity of many that we are offering to encourage people to get outside."

Last year, there were no fire-safety concerns, but some of the firepits were located too close to residential homes and needed to be moved. But overall, Smith says, Calgarians embraced these public winter amenities responsibly.

This year, there are changes on the horizon:

  • There are 10 more bookable locations for the 2021-22 season.

  • Pending a council decision, some firepit sites could be booze friendly.

  • Bookings can be made the same day, instead of five days in advance.

All you need for a good fire are some friends, lawn chairs and, of course, your own bundles of wood.

If spirits are on the table, Smith recommends warm and cozy classics like a little Baileys warmup in hot chocolate or coffee, or mulled wine. That decision will go to council in December ahead of the firepit program's official launch.

Some of the firepits have already been dropped off in city parks but the booking site will go live Dec. 12.

Bookings and information can be found at the city website.

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